Monday, December 5

PMQs live: Dominic Raab facing MPs after calling for inquiry into claims he bullied officials | Politics

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From the Sun’s Harry Cole

Downing Street has released its readout from Rishi Sunak’s meeting with the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi. No 10 said:

The leaders agreed on the enduring importance of the UK-India relationship, and of the living bridge between our countries. The prime minister passed on his thanks to Prime Minister Modi for the overwhelming response of the Indian people to his appointment as prime minister.

The leaders discussed the range of areas where the UK and India are working increasingly closely and have the opportunity to further develop our links, including defence and security.

They looked forward to the agreement of a UK-India free trade deal, which has the potential to unlock investment and increase jobs in both our countries, as well as expanding our deep cultural links.

The prime minister and Prime Minister Modi agreed that the UK and India’s shared values, not least our commitment to democracy, are a huge asset in international forums like the G20 and the Commonwealth.

Rishi Sunak meeting Narendra Modi at the G20. Photograph: Leon Neal/PA

And here is an extract from the readout from Sunak’s meeting with Anthony Albanese, the Australian PM. No 10 said:

The prime minister and Prime Minister Albanese agreed to build on our defence and security relationship, with the prime minister stressing the importance of the Indo-Pacific region to the UK.

The leaders looked forward to the implementation of the UK-Australia free trade agreement and to maximising the opportunities it offers for both of our countries. The prime minister also thanked Prime Minister Albanese for his support for the UK’s accession to the CPTPP trading bloc.

Anthony Albanese with Rishi Sunak.
Anthony Albanese with Rishi Sunak. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Raab to take PMQs on behalf of Sunak

PMQs will be starting at 12pm. With Rishi Sunak on his way home from the G20 summit in Bali, Dominic Raab, the deputy PM, will be taking questions on his behalf. And Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, will stand in for Keir Starmer.

Here is the list of MPs down to ask a question.

PMQs Photograph: HoC

After PMQs there will be two urgent questions, on migration and Iran, followed by two ministerial statements, on the missile incident in Poland and on social housing standards

Steve Barclay hints NHS likely to get extra money in autumn statement

Denis Campbell

Denis Campbell

The NHS looks likely to get extra money in Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement tomorrow to help it cover the multi-billion pound hole that inflation had left in its budget.

Steve Barclay, the health secretary, gave a heavy hint today that the chancellor will hand the NHS additional cash in his speech to the annual conference of hospitals body NHS Providers.

He dismissed as “completely incorrect” a recent report in the Times that he had told Hunt that the NHS in England did not need more resources and could instead save money by being more efficient.

NHS England have warned that it could be forced to reduce spending on cancer, diagnostic tests, mental health and primary care services because it will be facing £7bn of extra, unfunded costs next year as a result of soaring inflation, ongoing spending to tackle Covid and having to find up to £2bn to cover part of the pay rise that the government has given NHS staff.

Addressing the NHS’s need for extra funding, Barclay said that it faced significant financial pressures” and that he had a “lot of discussion” with Hunt, who was the health secretary from 2012 to 2018. Barclay went on:

One of the things I’m able to bring to this role, having been chief of staff in Number 10, having been the minister responsible for the Cabinet Office, is actually a very good understanding as to how best to make the case for the Department of Health and also in terms of our care sector, in terms of making that case to the centre. So … I can absolutely confirm that we do need support to meet those inflationary pressures.

His audience – senior NHS leaders including chief executive and chairs of trusts – should judge him on the results of Hunt’s announcement, when they will see whether “it is true or not that we don’t get a penny and I’ve not asked for a penny”, he said.

The Health Service Journal recently reported that the NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard, had described the financial situation facing the service as “a fucking nightmare”.

Barclay also disclosed today that money from the £500m emergency fund to help social care providers clear hospitals of the 13,600 patients who are medically fit to leave but cannot be safely discharged will finally be released next month. It will be used to pay for “delayed discharge” patients to move into a care home or go back to their own home with support from domiciliary care workers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, he said.

Thérèse Coffey, Barclay’s predecessor, first announced the £500m scheme in her ‘A Plan For Patients’ strategy on 22 September but it has not yet materialised.

Steve Barclay visiting the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in Liverpool today.
Steve Barclay visiting the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in Liverpool today. Photograph: Jason Roberts/PA

The Liberal Democrats says Rishi Sunak must appoint a new ethics adviser at No 10 to carry out the investigation into Dominic Raab. “Ethics adviser” was one of the informal titles for Lord Geidt when he was independent adviser on ministers’ interests, to give him his official job description. “Independent adviser on ministerial standards” was another shorthand description that summed up what he did better than the official version.

Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem deputy leader, said:

The country no longer trusts this Conservative government to act with integrity and carry out their own investigations. This must not be a whitewashed report. A new independent ethics adviser must be appointed by Rishi Sunak and given this as their first task. If the ministerial code has been broken then the prime minister must sack Raab immediately.

Here is Rishi Sunak’s reply to Dominic Raab. (See 10.54am.)

PM's reply to Raab
PM’s reply to Raab Photograph: No 10

Sunak says inquiry into Raab bullying allegations will go ahead

Rishi Sunak has accepted Dominic Raab’s request for an independent investigation into bullying allegations against him.

In his response to the deputy prime minister, Sunak said:

I thank you for your letter and the recommendation that the two formal complaints against you in previous roles are investigated independently.

I know that you will be keen to address the complaints made against you and agree that proceeding in this way is the right course of action.

Integrity, professionalism and accountability are core values of this government. It is right that these matters are investigated fully.

Rishi Sunak is leaving Bali around now, my colleague Jessica Elgot reports.

Before he left, Sunak had a bilateral with Narendra Modi, the Indian PM. Sunak’s father-in-law, the billionaire businessman Narayan Murthy, is a household name in India, and Sunak’s appointment as PM was huge news in the country. This is what Modi said about the meeting.

Was great to meet PM @RishiSunak in Bali. India attaches great importance to robust 🇮🇳 🇬🇧 ties. We discussed ways to increase commercial linkages, raise the scope of security cooperation in context of India’s defence reforms and make people-to-people ties even stronger.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 16, 2022

As Jessica reports, Sunak has suggested he wants to slow down progress on the India trade deal to improve its terms. But the UK has offered India an olive branch on visas by giving the green light to 3,000 two-year visas for Indian young professionals. There is more detail in the story here.

My colleague Pippa Crerar has more information about the complaint against Dominic Raab from officials at the Ministry of Justice.

NEW: I’m told MoJ complaint was first made by group of mid-ranking policy officials in Spring but has been revived by individuals in light of recent allegations. Department insiders say perm sec “acted upon on” this at time by speaking to Raab/ supporting officials.

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) November 16, 2022

Raab suggests that if bullying inquiry finds against him, he will resign

In his letter to Rishi Sunak, Dominic Raab says he will respect “whatever outcome you decide” following the investigation into the claims he has bullied officials. In effect, he is telling Sunak that he accepts his job is on the line, and that this process could result in his having to resign.

Raab says:

When you entered No 10 Downing Street, on 25th October, you rightly stated that ‘this government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level’. I am proud to take this as a personal article of faith.

I have just been notified that two separate complaints have formally been made against me, in parallel, from my time as foreign secretary and my first tenure as justice secretary, which ended in September of this year.

I am, therefore, writing to request that you commission an independent investigation into the claims as soon as possible. I will cooperate fully and respect whatever outcome you decide.

Raab also says that he has never tolerated bullying – although he does accept that he set “high standards” and welcomed “mutual challenge” (which sounds like a euphemism for saying he enjoyed a good row). He says:

I have always welcomed the mutual challenge that comes with serious policymaking and public service delivery.

I have always sought to set high standards and forge teams that can deliver for the British people amidst the acute challenges that we have faced in recent years.

I have never tolerated bullying, and always sought to reinforce and empower the teams of civil servants working in my respective departments.

Yesterday Simon McDonald, the former Foreign Office permanent secretary, said that he did not think Raab was aware of the impact his behaviour was having on people at the Foreign Office.

The announcement of Raab’s request for an inquiry is a good example of how having PMQs in the diary can force decisions to get taken. Raab is taking PMQs at 12pm, and Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, was bound to ask about the bullying allegations against him. This announcement to a large extent closes down that line of attack.

But Raab does not say who should carry out the investigation. The obvious person would be the PM’s independent adviser on ministerial standards, but No 10 does not currently have one. The last one, Lord Geidt, resigned when Boris Johnson was PM, and neither Johnson nor Liz Truss replaced him. Sunak is committed to appointing a new standards adviser, but no one has been given the job yet.

Here is Dominic Raab’s statement.

I have written to the Prime Minister to request an independent investigation into two formal complaints that have been made against me. I look forward to addressing these complaints, and continuing to serve as Deputy Prime Minister, Justice Secretary, and Lord Chancellor.

— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) November 16, 2022

Dominic Raab calls for inquiry into complaints against him

Dominic Raab has said he has written to the prime minister “to request an independent investigation into two formal complaints that have been made against me” but will continue in his posts as deputy prime minister, justice secretary and lord chancellor. The full story is here.

Sunak tells Biden he wants NI protocol dispute resolved before 25th anniversary of Good Friday agreement next year

Rishi Sunak has set next year’s 25th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement as the new deadline for a resolution of the dispute with the EU over changes to the Northern Ireland protocol.

In a briefing after Sunak’s meeting with Joe Biden, the US president, earlier, the PM’s spokesperson said Sunak referred to the anniversary during the meeting and “ensuring that we get a negotiated settlement that protects the Good Friday agreement by then”.

The spokesperson said Biden did not specifically asked Sunak about the Northern Ireland protocol bill, which is still going through parliament. The bill would allow the UK to ignore parts of the protocol and Brussels says that if it becomes law, negotiating an agreement on reforms to the protocol will become much harder.

But the two leaders did discuss the situation in Northern Ireland in general, the spokesperson said. “They both expressed their commitment to protecting the Good Friday agreement,” she said.

In its own readout from the talks, the White House said Biden and Sunak “affirmed their shared commitment to protecting the gains of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement”.

Rishi Sunak holding his bilateral meeting with Joe Biden.
Rishi Sunak holding his bilateral meeting with Joe Biden.
Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

Sunak’s meeting with Xi Jinping cancelled as G20 leaders discuss Poland missile strike

Here is the story from my colleagues Jessica Elgot and Aletha Adu about the cancellation of Rishi Sunak’s planned bilateral with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Sunak says tackling inflation his number one priority

And here are the main points from Rishi Sunak’s press conference.

We should all be clear: None of this would be happening if it weren’t for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is the cruel and unrelenting reality of Putin’s war.

  • Sunak accused President Putin of showing “utter contempt” for the international order. Referring to the Russian missile attacks on Ukraine yesterday, he said:

That was happening at a time when the G20 was gathered trying to find resolution to some of the world’s challenges and the same time Putin was raining down indiscriminately that volume of missile attack. I think it shows utter contempt for the international rules-based system.

  • Sunak said that the war in Ukraine was a threat, not just to global security, but to the global economy as well. (See 8.33am.) Everyone in the world was affected, he said.

The persistent threat to our security and global asphyxiation has been driven by the actions of the one man unwilling to be at this summit – Vladimir Putin. There isn’t a single person in the world who has not felt the impact of Putin’s war.

With more news of inflation today, it’s the number one thing that’s on people’s minds. It’s the thing that’s causing most anxiety, opening up bills, seeing the emails come in with rising prices. And that’s why it’s right that we grip it.

As my colleague Larry Elliott reports, the UK’s annual inflation rate has hit a 41-year-high of 11.1%.

I want to tell people that the decisions that we’ll be making tomorrow will be based on fairness. They’ll be based on compassion.

And I am confident that, when people see the set of decisions in the round when the chancellor has delivered his statement, they will see that we have strived incredibly hard to deliver fairness, to deliver compassion, and put the UK on a positive economic trajectory.

  • He confirmed that, in his talks with President Biden, the pair did not discuss a UK-US free trade deal. But Sunak said they did discuss trade generally, and he said he was “filled with optimism about our ability to do more trade with the US”. At one stage Brexiters said that a free trade deal with the US would be a major, post-Brexit boost to the economy, but recently the government admitted there is no prospect of anything being negotiated in the short or medium term.

  • Sunak refused to accept that Brexit was a significant factor behind the UK’s economic dificulties. Asked if he accepted that Brexit was “in any way” responsible for Britain’s problems, Sunak did not say that he did. In his reply, he did not mention Brexit at all – although he did allude to it when he spoke of “idiosyncratic things” being a factor in particular countries. He said that at the G20 summit it was clear that countries all around the world were facing economic trouble. That was because of Covid and the war in Ukraine, he said.

So that’s the global economic context. That is what’s dominating what’s happening. Every country is going to have idiosyncratic things but those are the overwhelming dominating factors that are leading to the economic challenge that we’re facing at the moment.

  • Sunak confirmed that, in future, he wanted to prioritise quality over speed when negotiating trade deals. He made the comment in response to a question about George Eustice’s criticism of the free trade deal with Australia, and Sunak seemed to be accepting Eustice’s argument – that because Liz Truss was determined to conclude a deal quickly, as international trade secretary, she gave away too much to Australia.

Rishi Sunak holding his press conference in Bali.
Rishi Sunak holding his press conference in Bali. Photograph: Reuters

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