Politics latest: Braverman facing questions shortly - as Sunak 'still updating himself' on story (2023)

Key points
  • Suella Braverman facing Home Office Questions - watch live above
  • 'Nothing untoward has happened', says Braverman
  • PM 'still updating himself' on Braverman story - and no inquiry yet
  • Tamara Cohen: Home secretary has set her own bar for resignation
  • Watch reporter ask if she has any regrets
  • Rob Powell:PM in 'uncomfortable spot'
  • Therese Coffey says she does not know if Braverman speeding claims are true
  • Labour says 'no point PM getting all tetchy' over Braverman claims
  • Sir Keir Starmer says NHS could die within five years as he reveals specifics of his plan to save it
  • Live reporting by Ben Bloch


Both Sinn Fein and the DUP claim victory in local elections - the deadlock continues

Over in Northern Ireland, the debate continues over who actually won the local elections that took place on Thursday.

Counting finished on Saturday, and Sinn Fein emerged as the largest party of local government.

However, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) claims it has a renewed mandate as it vote share remained largely the same.

Power sharing collapsed in Northern Ireland collapsed in February 2022 after the DUP objected to the government's proposed Northern Ireland Protocol, which would have governed trade between the UK and Northern Ireland, and between Northern Ireland and the EU.

Rishi Sunak renegotiated with the EU earlier this year and announced the Windsor Framework, which appeared to address key issues in the protocol.

However, the DUP subsequently rejected it.

Speaking outside Stormont a short while ago, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: "The DUP, in terms of the votes and seats we held, has maintained a very strong mandate within unionism and whilst we recognise that others have also done well in the election, the reality is that Northern Ireland only moves forward and has stability when we have that cross-community consensus.

"That means the DUP has a renewed mandate to go back to the government and seek the solutions that we need on the Northern Ireland Protocol."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill has called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to co-chair a summit meeting to chart a course back to devolution at Stormont.

She said the DUP's ongoing blockade on Stormont was "totally unacceptable", adding: "There’s no doubt the political landscape across this island is changing, but Sinn Fein is leading on that change and we are in this decade of opportunity and people want new beginnings."


The government's strikes bill breaches human rights law - senior MP

Senior MP Joanna Cherry has told Sky News the government's legislation that would require striking workers in some sectors to provide a minimum level of service would be in breach of their human rights.

The veteran SNP politician, who also chairs the Joint Committee on Human Rights, said that after taking evidence on the legislation, the committee concluded that it "breaches the right to strike under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights".

She said there can be limits on the right to strike under law, as long as they are necessary and there is sufficient justification.

"We don't believe the government has shown that there is a pressing need for this legislation at all," she said.

(Video) PMQs: Rishi Sunak takes questions in parliament – watch live

Ms Cherry described the bill as "draconian", but said some of the Lords amendments due to be debated this afternoon might improve it.

A key one would be to restrict the bill to England only, as devolved administrations have control over most of the sectors impacted.

Another would ensure that any application of the legislation is approved by a joint committee of MPs and Lords to ensure there is "proper democratic scrutiny and oversight".

The legislation is set to return to the Commons this afternoon where amendments from the House of Lords will be debated by MPs.


Stamer is unleashing waves of new policy - but still fails to explain how he would pay for it all

As part of a long-term effort to convince voters that Labour is ready for government, Sir Keir Starmer today unveiled the third of his five missions.

It seems that his response to being accused of lacking a big vision for the country is to unleash wave after wave of detailed policies and ambitious pledges.

In a speech that lasted half an hour, the wishlist went from slashing waiting times to restrictions on advertising to children.

It included personal anecdotes alongside transformative plans that span the next decade.

The only area that was a little light on information was how it would all be paid for, beyond some narrowly focused funding pledges on closing tax loopholes.

The Labour leader said that would be forthcoming as the next general election draws near.

But if he wants to reassure voters that the public finances as well as the NHS are safe in his hands, he can't put it off much longer.


Senior Labour frontbencher under fire for business class flight to New York

Suella Braverman is not the only senior MP under fire today.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has been criticised for taking a business class flight to New York where she is set to meet businesses, before travelling to Washington DC for meetings and a speech tomorrow.

Yesterday evening, she posted a tweet with a photo of herself on the plane before take-off from Heathrow, but eagle-eyed users spotted her seat number on her boarding pass.

She was sitting in seat number 3K, which is a business class seat with a lie-flat bed, according to online seat maps.

(Video) REPLAY: New UK PM, Rishi Sunak faces questions in parliament for first time • FRANCE 24 English

However, the tweet was deleted when users began pointing out her front-of-the-plane accommodation. The tweet was subsequently re-posted with the information blurred out, but that was also later deleted.

The cost of a seat in British Airways' Club World cabin can be up to £8,000 if booked last minute, but if booked in advance, it generally costs around £2,200.

It is understood that the flight was paid for by a donor, rather than by taxpayers or the Labour Party.

Nonetheless, the flight comes just months after Labour accused government ministers of failing to "rein in the culture of lavish spending across Whitehall".

The Tory for Workington, Mark Jenkinson, sharply criticised Ms Reeves, telling the Telegraph: "Imagine the uproar from the Labour Party, not only if a party donor had paid to upgrade a minister’s travel to business class, but if said minister had then tried to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

"As always for Labour, it’s one rule for them and one for everybody else."

And the Tory MP for Bassetlaw, Brendan Clarke-Smith, added: "When it comes to luxury travel, with Labour they still expect to be top of the list - it’s a case of do as I say, not as I do."

The Labour Party was approached for comment.


Suella Braverman is trying to shift the narrative back to her priorities

The prime minister will be the ultimate judge of whether or not there will be an investigation into Suella Braverman, says Sky's political correspondent Rob Powell.

She was spotted walking into Downing Street a few minutes ago for what Sky News understands was a meeting about small boats crossing the English Channel, and when asked by reporters if she was going to resign, she simply said: "I'm here to stop the boats."

"She is very much trying to shift the narrative and the conversation back to the priorities she wants to focus on," Powell said.

Watch his full analysis from Downing Street here:


MP loses appeal against Commons suspension after breaking COVID rules

You may recall that during the COVID period, an SNP MP was accused of breaking lockdown rules by speaking in parliament and travelling by train while suffering with the virus.

After conducting an inquiry, parliament's standards committee recommended that Margaret Ferrier - who now sits as an independent - be suspended from the Commons for 30 days, which would mean she would face a by-election in her constituency of Rutherglen and Hamilton West.

Ms Ferrier appealed the decision, claiming the sanction imposed was unreasonable or disproportionate and that credible fresh evidence had become available, including that her medical condition led her to panic and make poor decisions.

(Video) PMQs: Rishi Sunak pressed on 'broken' asylum system

However, that has now been rejected out of hand by parliament's independent expert panel, who said: "[She] failed to conduct herself in accordance with the standards of conduct expected of individual MPs.

"She acted with blatant and deliberate dishonest intent. She acted with a high degree of recklessness to the public and to colleagues and staff at the House of Commons. She acted selfishly, putting her own interests above the public interest.

"There could therefore be no lesser sanction for this conduct."

As a result, MPs will have a vote in the coming days or weeks on whether the proposed punishment of a 30-day suspension should go ahead.


'Nothing untoward has happened', says Suella Braverman

The home secretary has insisted "nothing untoward has happened" amid allegations she broke the ministerial code for a second time.

As we have been discussing, Suella Braverman reportedly asked civil servants in the Home Office to arrange a private speed awareness course after she was caught speeding last year.

The civil servants sought advice from the Cabinet Office who advised that they not get involved due to it being a personal rather than a public issue.

Speaking for the first time since the allegations broke in the media on the weekend, Suella Braverman admitted the speeding offence, saying: "Last summer, I was speeding, I regret that, I paid the fine and I took the points, but we're focused now on delivering for the British people and working for them."

Asked directly if she asked civil servants to arrange a one-to-one speeding course, Ms Braverman did not deny the claim, and said: "I'm confident that nothing untoward has happened."

Pushed on whether it's a good look that a secretary of state has broken the ministerial code twice, the home secretary replied: "I got a speeding ticket. I paid the fine, I took the points. In my view, nothing untoward has happened."


PM 'still updating himself' on Braverman story - and no inquiry yet

The prime minister's official spokesperson says Rishi Sunak still has full confidence in his home secretary, despite allegations she may have breached the ministerial code.

As we have been reporting, Suella Braverman asked civil servants in the Home Office to arrange a private speed awareness course after she was caught speeding.

The civil servants sought advice from the Cabinet Office who advised that they not get involved due to it being a personal rather than a public issue.

Last night, Downing Street sources confirmed Mr Sunak would be conferring with his independent adviser on ministers' interests, Sir Laurie Magnus, and it is understood that no formal enquiry has yet been launched.

The prime minister's official spokesperson confirmed he had spoken to Sir Laurie Magnus this morning, but did not provide details on the conversation.

(Video) Tory MPs hit out at UK Home Secretary Braverman for undermining Sunak | Latest English News | WION

Asked by journalists if Mr Sunak still had confidence in his home secretary, his spokesperson said: "Yes, they continue to work closely on public priorities."

Asked if ministers should set a good example by following the law, the spokesperson said: "Everyone should follow the law always, however [the prime minister] is still updating himself on the information."


Chancellor reprimanded by statistics watchdog over public debt claim

The chair of the UK statistics authority has criticised Chancellor Jeremy Hunt for a tweet in which he implied public debt would fall by 2028, when in fact the forecasts he was referring to showed it growing - albeit at a slower rate.

Sir Robert Chope said he had written to Treasury Officials to remind them of the importance of transparency.

The tweet in question was part of a thread posted by Mr Hunt last month.

On 28 April, Labour's Angela Eagle, a member of the Treasury select committee, wrote to the UK statistics authority saying she believed the tweet was "inaccurate and misleading".

In a response published this morning, Sir Robert Chope said he agreed Mr Hunt's post would lead to "confusion":

"As you suggest, some readers of the tweet may have assumed that the chancellor was referring to the forecast change in public sector net debt between the last full financial year and 2027-28.

"This shows an increase of £363bn over these five years, although this corresponds to a reduction from 100.6% to 96.9% of GDP.

"Greater clarity and context would have avoided this confusion. The Office for Statistics Regulation has therefore spoken with officials at HM Treasury to emphasise the importance of consistently adopting a transparent and accessible approach to communicating statistics."


Sir Keir Starmer is asked if the NHS is institutionally racist

During his speech, Sir Keir Starmer said health inequalities was one of the key issues that needed tackling.

He cited figures showing that black women were four times more likely to die while having a baby than white women.

Asked directly if he believed the NHS was institutionally racist, Sir Keir said: "I'm not here to denigrate the health service."

He said his point was to highlight inequalities within the NHS and how he planned to fix them

"I don't think it's possible to solve the health challenge if we don't tackle at the same time the inequality challenge," he said.

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