Jeremy Corbyn set to fight against Labour as independent

Jeremy Corbyn says he will ‘not be intimidated into silence’ by the decision to bar him - Susannah Ireland/AFP via Getty Images
Jeremy Corbyn says he will ‘not be intimidated into silence’ by the decision to bar him - Susannah Ireland/AFP via Getty Images

Jeremy Corbyn is poised to fight Labour as an independent after he was banned from standing for the party at the next election.

The former leader tore into Sir Keir Starmer over what he called a “shameful attack” on the rights of members to choose their candidate.

Despite MPs being warned they may face disciplinary action if they support Mr Corbyn, allies immediately rallied to his defence, including John McDonnell, former shadow chancellor, who called for a campaign to overturn the decision.

Labour’s National Executive Committee rubber-stamped a motion brought by Sir Keir to bar his predecessor from running as its candidate.

John McDonnell, former shadow chancellor: ‘This decision will be seen as divisive and brutal, victimising someone who has given his life to our movement’ - Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
John McDonnell, former shadow chancellor: ‘This decision will be seen as divisive and brutal, victimising someone who has given his life to our movement’ - Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

In a statement, Mr Corbyn said he would “not be intimidated into silence” by the decision and suggested he will stand as an independent.

“I have spent my life fighting for a fairer society on behalf of the people of Islington North, and I have no intention of stopping now,” he said.

“Keir Starmer has launched an assault on the rights of his own Labour members, breaking his pledge to build a united and democratic party that advances social, economic and climate justice.”

His allies immediately attacked the move, with one sparking outrage by comparing Sir Keir to the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Mr McDonnell, a long-time friend who served in his shadow cabinet, claimed it would “cost us votes” at the next election and was “a really bad mistake”.

“This decision will be seen as divisive and brutal, victimising someone who has given his life to our movement,” he added.

“We need a campaign in CLPs [local party branches] and affiliates to reverse this decision.”

Jon Lansman, founder of Left-wing Momentum, accused Sir Keir of acting like ‘some kind of Putin’ - Matt Crossick/Alamy
Jon Lansman, founder of Left-wing Momentum, accused Sir Keir of acting like ‘some kind of Putin’ - Matt Crossick/Alamy

Nadia Whittome, MP for Nottingham East, branded the move as “divisive, an attack on party democracy and a distraction from the vital task of getting the Tories out”.

Calling for it to be withdrawn, she added: “It should be up to local members in Islington North to decide who represents them.”

In a statement, the officers of Mr Corbyn’s local constituency Labour party also hit out at the decision of its headquarters.

“We believe in the democracy of all constituency parties to choose their prospective parliamentary candidate,” they said.

“We reject the undue interference in Islington North, which undermines our goal of defeating the Conservatives and working with our communities for social justice.”

Jon Lansman, founder of the Left-wing Momentum pressure group, accused Sir Keir of acting like “some kind of Putin of the Labour Party”.

“This is not an authoritarian party. That is not the way we do politics,” he told Times Radio.

Dame Margaret Hodge, a veteran MP and ally of Sir Keir, hit out at the comparison as “totally inappropriate and ridiculous”.

Ed Miliband: ‘It’s about one thing, which is Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction to the EHRC report on anti-Semitism and his refusal to apologise for that reaction’ - Christopher Furlong/Getty
Ed Miliband: ‘It’s about one thing, which is Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction to the EHRC report on anti-Semitism and his refusal to apologise for that reaction’ - Christopher Furlong/Getty

Ed Miliband, shadow climate secretary, insisted there was “no mystery” over why Mr Corbyn had been banned from standing for the party.

“It’s about one thing, which is Jeremy Corbyn’s reaction to the EHRC [Equality and Human Rights Commission] report on anti-Semitism and his refusal to apologise for that reaction,” he said.

Mr Corbyn has represented Islington North, one of the safest Labour seats in the country, since first winning election there in 1983.

In October 2020, he had the whip removed after claiming the scale of the party’s anti-Semitism problem had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

He made the comments on the day the EHRC said Labour was “responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” against Jews.

Sir Keir’s motion calling for his predecessor to be barred pointed out he had led the party to its worst defeat since the 1935 general election.

It said Labour’s “electoral prospects” would be “significantly diminished” if the Islington North MP were allowed to stand as its candidate.

06:33 PM

That's all for today...

Thanks for joining us on another busy day across Westminster and beyond, as Jeremy Corbyn suggested he will defy Sir Keir Starmer's Labour Party by running against it as an independent candidate at the next general election.

Elsewhere Rishi Sunak insisted nobody had promised migrant flights to Rwanda "by the summer", although appeared keen to begin deportations of small boat arrivals as soon as soon as possible.

And the fallout from the bitter SNP leadership election continued with Kate Forbes snubbing a job offer from Humza Yousaf, the party's new leader and Scotland's new First Minister, after he beat her by less than five percentage points.

My colleague Jack Maidment will be back early tomorrow to guide you through the latest.

06:27 PM

Breaking: Rishi Sunak's congratulatory call with Humza Yousaf

06:20 PM

Tom Harris: Why Humza Yousaf will almost certainly fail

There is a key question about Humza Yousaf, the SNP's new leader, that the party has so far been able to avoid asking, writes Tom Harris.

They have avoided it for a very good reason, which is that they know the answer. The question is this: is Yousaf a better politician than his predecessor, Nicola Sturgeon? Everything depends on the answer to this question.

We now recognise the truth that the campaign for independence reached a high watermark in September 2014, with polling day in the independence referendum. Even Sturgeon, with all her alleged political abilities, was unable to push support for independence much higher, for a sustained period, than the 45 per cent the Yes movement achieved that day.

The intervening nine years of her leadership of Scotland, as far as support for separatism is concerned, might as well have never happened at all.

Tom Harris: If Sturgeon failed, how can Yousaf succeed?

06:04 PM

'Oop!' Some levity for your Tuesday evening...

06:01 PM

Labour embarks on Scotland charm offensive to exploit SNP weakness

Labour has taken out full-page advertisements in Scottish newspapers as part of a new charm offensive designed to capitalise on SNP turmoil.

The day after Humza Yousaf was elected by SNP members to replace Nicola Sturgeon, Labour paid for an open letter from Anas Sarwar, its Scottish leader, to appear in the Daily Record, the Metro and the Dundee-based Courier.

It will be followed with letters to thousands of swing voters in Scotland over the coming days, as well as further newspaper advertisements.

The push comes as Sir Keir Starmer, the party’s leader, makes near-weekly trips over the border, with Labour sources increasingly confident that a revival in Scotland can help him win the keys to Number 10 at the next general election.

Daniel Sanderson has the story

05:53 PM

Breaking: Kate Forbes to leave Scottish government after SNP leadership defeat

Kate Forbes is to leave the Scottish government after losing her bid to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland's First Minister.

Ms Forbes was offered a position in the government of the party's new leader Humza Yousaf but turned down the job, according to reports.

Mr Yousaf narrowly won the race to succeed Ms Sturgeon as SNP leader, scraping home despite enjoying the overwhelming backing of the party establishment.

Read all the latest here

05:44 PM

Breaking: Jeremy Corbyn suggests he will run as independent

The NEC's decision to block my candidacy for Islington North is a shameful attack on party democracy, party members and natural justice.

When I was leader of the Labour Party, I was determined to build a member-led movement that gave hope to a new generation. Today's disgraceful move shows contempt for the millions of people who voted for our party in 2017 and 2019, and will demotivate those who still believe in the importance of a transformative Labour government.

Keir Starmer has instead launched an assault on the rights of his own Labour members, breaking his pledge to build a united and democratic party that advances social, economic and climate justice.

I will not be intimidated into silence. I have spent my life fighting for a fairer society on behalf of the people of Islington North, and I have no intention of stopping now.

05:35 PM

Analysis: A score draw for Sunak

Anyone tuning into this afternoon's Liaison Committee expecting any of the drama provided by Boris Johnson's Privileges Committee grilling last week will probably have come away disappointed.

For Rishi Sunak himself, however, it was something of a score draw. Mr Sunak issued a passionate defence of the Windsor Framework, one of several accomplishments in recent weeks his allies will argue point to a premiership that is on an upward trajectory.

There were still tough questions on Northern Irish sovereignty, the childcare "crisis" - although the Prime Minister rejected such terminology - and what is arguably the Government's top priority: stopping the boats.

While Mr Sunak will be confident in his performance this afternoon, it did little to shift the dial on his political priorities. As he has said many times himself it is his actions, rather than words before a committee, which will determine his fortunes in the coming months.

05:13 PM

Ed Miliband doubles down on Labour’s opposition to new oil and gas drilling

More oil and gas would not save voters a penny on their energy bills, Ed Miliband argued as he warned that Britain must “get real” on fracking.

The shadow energy secretary doubled down on Labour’s opposition to new drilling as he confirmed he would adopt a version of the green package introduced by Joe Biden.

Mr Miliband told ministers to stop being “sore losers” as he promised his new Green Prosperity Plan, which replicates similar measures by President Biden and the EU, would be introduced in the first 100 days of a Labour government.

Telling a Green Alliance event that £11.4 billion raised by the windfall tax had gone to oil and gas companies “making record profits” instead of renewable firms, Mr Miliband said: “The same resources could build the future.”

You can read the full story here

04:48 PM

Power sharing 'what Northern Ireland needs and deserves'

Asked about whether power-sharing can be restored, and what happens if it is not, Rishi Sunak said he remained "hopeful that we can continue to have dialogue with all the parties in Northern Ireland".

Power sharing is "what the people of Northern Ireland need and deserved" and the Windsor Framework ensures problems posed by the Northern Ireland Protocol have been "dealt with", Mr Sunak added.

"As we come up to the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, it's a good reminder of how hard-fought these institutions are and we should give them every chance of succeeding in future."

Asked if the Protocol will one day have to be replaced, Mr Sunak responded: "The Northern Ireland Protocol has been changed and we now have the Windsor Framework. And it does have, I believe, broad support in Northern Ireland from people I've had conversations with in all communities... Recognise that, look forward and give the people of Northern Ireland the devolved government that they need and deserved."

04:41 PM

Sunak: Stormont Brake means Northern Ireland will have a say on laws

Rishi Sunak has said the Stormont Brake will mean the people of Northern Ireland will "ultimately able to have their say" over new EU law.

"The entire thing is subject to a consent vote, so any of this is only there with the overall consent of Northern Ireland," he said in response to arch-Brexiteer Sir Bill Cash.

"Stormont will be able to have its say and will be able to block them."

Sir Bill replied: "I'm not very keen on the Windsor Framework, as you know... having said that, on the question of the Stormont Brake, this is intended to provide for democratic consent. But don't you accept that the Brake can't apply to existing EU law, but nor does it apply to such vital lawmaking issues as state aid, electricity markets, VAT, excise and much of customs? What effect do you think all this will have on the rest of the United Kingdom in terms of divergence?"

Mr Sunak said the Brake "does actually refer to the rules that people were most concerned about", in line with the seven tests set out by the DUP.

04:31 PM

Rishi Sunak warns SNP not to 'hijack' general election

Rishi Sunak slapped down suggestions by the SNP that it would turn the next general election into a mandate for independence.

"In elections people vote on all sorts of different things and I don’t think it’s appropriate to try and hijack a general election for [one issue]," Mr Sunak told the Liaison Committee.

"People in Scotland will vote on the various issues that they think are important for them."

04:30 PM

'It's sad that we're having this conversation again'

Asked about his comments around the single market and Northern Ireland, Rishi Sunak hit back: "It's sad that we're having this conversation again.

"Because what I was very clearly referring to is the unique status of Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom because it's the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with a member of the EU."

04:18 PM

Sunak appears to confirm Rwanda not signed off as 'value for money'

Rishi Sunak was asked if there is a "blank cheque from the Treasury" to stop the boats.

"Of course not," Mr Sunak insisted. "But what I can tell you and the number you didn't mention is we're spending £3.5 billion a year on an asylum system. We spend £6.5 million a day, roughly, housing asylum seekers in hotels.

"We need to make sure that we bring that down over time and again as a matter of fairness and stopping people tragically losing their lives, we do need to stop the boats. There's lots of different things that we need to do."

Asked if the Rwanda deal had not yet been signed off as "value for money", he replied: "It's a novel policy."

"We're very committed to stopping the boats. We all are. This is what I think the right way to do it is. Other people may have alternatives but having spent a lot of time on it, and having lots of other ways that people have come at the problem, I think that this is the only way to do it. Nobody has promised flights by the summer. What we have said is we will start flights as soon as we can after legal proceedings have completed. Ultimately we need to let the legal process play out and it's only once the legal process has been completed that we can practically start the flights."

04:06 PM

Children will not be exempt from small boats plan, suggests Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has suggested children will not be exempt from the Government's new small boats reforms.

Asked about the treatment of children at the liaison committee, Mr Sunak said: "The intention of this policy, the policy objective here, is not to detain children. But it is important we do not inadvertently create a policy that incentivises people to bring children here…

"The policy should and must apply to families but it’s right that we then look at families differently as we do and that those family groups should not be separated and I think that is the right thing to do. Because otherwise you create incentive for a criminal gang to bring a child when they wouldn't otherwise."

Mr Sunak said children would be looked after "in all circumstances" and they would "not be separated from their families", but went on to insist that the cycle of criminal gangs had to be broken.

"That means we have to have a system which says if you do come here illegally having crossed through multiple safe countries on your way, then it's reasonable that we detain you and remove you to a safe alternative. Let's not forget what are we doing here.

"We are making sure that people are looked after - they will be safe. That will either be in their home country if that's appropriate for them, or Rwanda, or other alternatives down the line."

03:57 PM

Rishi Sunak grilled over small boats policies

Turning to small boats, Rishi Sunak was asked by Caroline Nokes, the Tory chair of the Equalities Select Committe, what measures will be put in place to safeguard migrant children who are removed from the UK "as part of a family unit".

Mr Sunak said: "Children are not separated from families and it will be made sure that the facilities for them and the accommodation for them is absolutely appropriate for them."

The Prime Minister said it would the Home Office's responsibility to oversee this. "The Home Office can do that itself," he said.

03:46 PM

Rishi Sunak defends speed of rollout of extra childcare support

Rishi Sunak was asked if he agreed that the nation's childcare sector is in "crisis".

Pointing to announcements at the Budget to extend free childcare, Mr Sunak said: "No, I don't think I would. Announcements in the Budget were warmly welcomed in the childcare sector..."

The Prime Minister was then asked why the extra support is going to take a few years to roll out in full.

He said that "there is going to be a very rapid increase in the funding rate for the existing programmes" but it "takes time to recruit more childminders and it is right that it is done properly".

03:43 PM

Back-to-work drive is 'broader than any one department', says PM

On the Government's back-to-work drive, Rishi Sunak was asked what he wanted the NHS to do differently to get more economically inactive people back into the workforce.

The Prime Minister said the Government's plans in the area are "broader than any one department" and the idea is to "come at it in lots of different ways".

03:31 PM

Government is 'completely committed' to HS2 despite delays, says PM

Asked about the decision to delay the roll out of some parts of the HS2 project, Rishi Sunak told the Liaison Committee: "We remain completely committed to HS2.

"It is a significant investment in our national infrastructure and I think it is right given that we have already spent about £20billion on phase one, that is where we should prioritise delivery."

Mr Sunak said the Government would use the next couple of years to "rephase" the rollout.

03:24 PM

Rishi Sunak: Junior doctor pay demands 'unreasonable and unaffordable'

Asked about the ongoing junior doctor pay dispute and how confident he is that it can be resolved, Rishi Sunak said the Government is "happy to have constructive conversations" with unions.

He said he wanted junior doctors to be "rewarded fairly for the work they do" but any deal must also be affordable to the taxpayer and not have a negative effect on inflation.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, gives evidence to the Liaison Committee this afternoon - AFP
Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, gives evidence to the Liaison Committee this afternoon - AFP

He said the Government's "door is always open" and he is "keen to find a way through this that is fair and reasonable for taxpayers".

But the PM said the British Medical Association's demand for a 35 per cent pay rise was "unreasonable and unaffordable".

03:20 PM

PM hails 'fair and reasonable' pay deal for NHS workers

Turning to the NHS, Rishi Sunak was asked where the Government is going to get the money from to pay for higher pay rises for health workers.

The Prime Minister said he was pleased a "fair and reasonable" pay settlement had been reached between the Government and health unions.

Mr Sunak said Health Secretary Steve Barclay had provided "strong reassurance" that the money would be a mix of additional funding and some "reprioritisation from elsewhere", with no impact on frontline services.

03:13 PM

Rishi Sunak won't be drawn on future fuel duty decisions

Rishi Sunak was asked by Treasury Select Committee chair Harriett Baldwin if he expected Jeremy Hunt to increase fuel duty next year - likely an election year - after the Chancellor decided to freeze it again at the Budget earlier this month.

Mr Sunak refused to be drawn.

He told the Liaison Committee: "I am not going to comment on any future tax policy."

03:10 PM

PM: UK 'cannot be complacent' in the fight against inflation

Moving onto the Budget, Rishi Sunak was asked about his pledges to halve inflation and reduce debt.

The Prime Minister told the Liaison Committee that the Government is "on track with all of those".

Mr Sunak said "we are making progress" but we "cannot be complacent" when it comes to tackling inflation.

He said a recent and unexpected spike in inflation "reminded us that we should not be complacent" on bringing down prices.

03:07 PM

Rishi Sunak says 'for Ukraine to decide' acceptable end to war with Russia

Rishi Sunak is now giving evidence to the Liaison Committee.

The Prime Minister was asked if it would be acceptable for the war in Ukraine to end with Russia keeping some Ukrainian territory.

He said it is "for Ukraine to decide what is acceptable to them".

Pushed on the question of Ukraine potentially giving up territory as the price of ending the war, Mr Sunak said that "this is for Ukraine to decide".

03:02 PM

Humza Yousaf wins vote to be new First Minister of Scotland

Humza Yousaf has been officially selected as the Scottish Parliament's nominee to be the new First Minister of Scotland.

He secured an overall majority of 71 in the first round of voting.

The result was as follows:

Alex Cole-Hamilton: 4

Douglas Ross: 31

Anas Sarwar: 22

Humza Yousaf: 71

Mr Yousaf will now officially be sworn in as First Minister at the Court of Session in Edinburgh tomorrow. You can read the full story here.

02:59 PM

Rishi Sunak set to be grilled by Liaison Committee

Rishi Sunak is due to appear in front of the powerful Liaison Committee of senior Tory MPs imminently.

The Prime Minister is going to face questions on the state of the economy, the migrant Channel crossings crisis and his Windsor Framework Brexit deal.

The session usually lasts about two hours and I will do my best to guide you through the key moments.

02:57 PM

Voting concludes at Holyrood

All the votes have now been cast at Holyrood as MSPs select the next first minister of Scotland.

The votes are now being verified with a result due to be announced shortly.

02:50 PM

Voting on next first minister now underway

MSPs are now voting at Holyrood to select the next first minister of Scotland.

02:45 PM

MSPs set to vote on next first minister of Scotland

All four of the nominees to be the next first minister of Scotland have now spoken and MSPs are set to vote on who they want to takeover from Nicola Sturgeon.

02:43 PM

Humza Yousaf tells MSPs he has 'very big shoes to fill'

Humza Yousaf, the new SNP leader, said there was "no doubt at all that Nicola Sturgeon leaves some very big shoes to fill indeed" as he made his case to be the next first minister of Scotland.

Mr Yousaf said that from speaking to people during the SNP leadership contest he knows many people are "feeling the significant pressures of the cost-of-living crisis".

He vowed to lead Scotland "through the tough times" but he said he also believed people are "optimistic" and "ambitious" about Scotland's future.

02:35 PM

Scottish Tory and Labour leaders try to make case to be Scottish first minister

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, accused the SNP of "fiddling while Rome burns" as he made the case to be the next first minister of Scotland.

He claimed the SNP had been "consumed by the debate on independence".

Mr Ross said that a "post-SNP Scotland" is now "in reach", with the next general election a "chance to bin the nationalists' neverendums".

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar then sought to make his case for the top job.

He told the Scottish Parliament that if he was elected to the top job he would "always put the peoples' priorities first". He said Scotland needs "a first minister for all of Scotland not just a first minister for half of the country".

02:24 PM

Four nominations for Scottish first minister

There are four nominations to be the next first minister of Scotland.

They are: Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and SNP leader Humza Yousaf.

Each candidate will be able to make a short speech before voting takes place.

It is a formality that Mr Yousaf will win the contest because the SNP, with the help of the Scottish Greens, commands a majority at Holyrood.

02:16 PM

Pictured: Humza Yousaf signs nomination paper to be next first minister of Scotland

Newly elected leader of the Scottish National Party, Humza Yousaf, with his daughter Amal, 3, as he signs the nomination form to become First Minister for Scotland, at the Scottish Parliament on March 28 - Getty Images Europe
Newly elected leader of the Scottish National Party, Humza Yousaf, with his daughter Amal, 3, as he signs the nomination form to become First Minister for Scotland, at the Scottish Parliament on March 28 - Getty Images Europe

02:00 PM

Scottish Parliament set to vote on next first minister

The Scottish Parliament is due to sit from 2pm today, with the vote to select the next first minister due to happen shortly.

There will be a brief topical questions session and then MSPs will move onto the voting process.

01:24 PM

Labour governing body votes to block Jeremy Corbyn standing for party at next election

Labour’s National Executive Committee has approved Sir Keir Starmer’s motion to prevent Jeremy Corbyn running to be an MP for the party at the next election, a Labour spokesman has said.

The spokesman said the motion passed by 22 to 12.

The decision means it is now down to Mr Corbyn to decide whether to run as an independent candidate.

You can read the full story here.

12:44 PM

Momentum founder claims Starmer behaving like 'Putin of the Labour Party'

Jon Lansman, the founder of the pro-Jeremy Corbyn Momentum campaign group, claimed Sir Keir Starmer is behaving like a "Putin of the Labour Party" by failing to adopt the "radical policies" of the former party leader.

He told Times Radio: "We've got to recognise that the radical policies that we had under Jeremy Corbyn... were not the problem. The party still supports them.

"I think we should be campaigning still for radical policies... we're a democratic party. This is not an authoritarian party.

"Keir Starmer unfortunately is behaving as if he was some kind of Putin of the Labour Party. That is not the way we do politics."

12:34 PM

Northern Ireland terror threat level increased

MI5 has increased the terror threat level in Northern Ireland from "substantial" to "severe", meaning an attack is highly likely, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said.

In a written statement to MPs, Mr Heaton-Harris said: "MI5 has increased the threat to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland Related Terrorism from ‘Substantial’ (an attack is likely) to ‘Severe’ (an attack is highly likely).

"The public should remain vigilant, but not be alarmed, and continue to report any concerns they have to the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

12:15 PM

Grant Shapps to announce 'ambitious, positive and practical' energy security plan on Thursday

Grant Shapps, the Energy Secretary, will announce an "ambitious, positive and practical set of plans" on Thursday to improve the nation's energy security and help reach net zero by 2050, Downing Street said.

Mr Shapps told Cabinet this morning that Russia's "illegal war in Ukraine demonstrated the need to take action" on the issue.

A No10 readout of today's Cabinet meeting said: "Looking ahead to Thursday, the Prime Minister said that the Energy Secretary will announce an ambitious, positive, and practical set of plans for securing the nation’s energy security and reaching net zero by 2050.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, addresses a meeting of his Cabinet this morning - Simon Walker/No10 Downing Street
Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, addresses a meeting of his Cabinet this morning - Simon Walker/No10 Downing Street

"The Energy Secretary said Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine demonstrated the need to take action, with everyone’s bills forced up by a spike in energy costs. He highlighted the Government’s support for households, where an increase in taxes on profits from energy companies was used to help pay around half of everyone’s energy bills, worth around £1,500 a year.

"He said the UK was well ahead of many advanced economies in transitioning to renewable energy. He said the UK will soon have all four of the world’s biggest offshore windfarms, with wind power increasing by 25 per cent in 2022.

"He said the Government’s plan would set out where we can go further, including through the use of more nuclear power, to curb emissions while growing the economy and creating jobs."

12:08 PM

Government set to announce new package to get Afghan refugees out of hotels and into new homes

Downing Street has confirmed a new package will be announced later today on accelerating the movement of Afghan refugees out of "hotel bridging accommodation" and into new homes.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said Rishi Sunak told his Cabinet meeting the UK can be "proud of the support provided to those forced to flee Afghanistan".

He asked veterans’ affairs minister Johnny Mercer to "outline the new package of measures to accelerate efforts to help those currently in hotel bridging accommodation into new homes".

Mr Mercer, who will announce the details in the House of Commons this afternoon, said it was "right to take these steps" to help Afghans "start a secure life", the spokesman said.

11:20 AM

Pictured: Nicola Sturgeon leaves Bute House for final time as First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon leaves Bute House in Edinburgh for the last time as First Minister of Scotland after signing her official letter of resignation - Jane Barlow/PA
Nicola Sturgeon leaves Bute House in Edinburgh for the last time as First Minister of Scotland after signing her official letter of resignation - Jane Barlow/PA

11:17 AM

Labour governing body to vote on blocking Jeremy Corbyn from standing as Labour candidate

Labour’s governing body will today vote on Sir Keir Starmer’s formal proposal to block Jeremy Corbyn from running for Labour at the next general election.

The Labour leader is putting a motion forward at a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) saying it will not endorse his predecessor.

The motion is expected to be backed by the NEC in opposition to the veteran MP who has represented the London constituency of Islington North since 1983.

10:50 AM

Nicola Sturgeon formally resigns as First Minister of Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon formally resigns as First Minister of Scotland this morning - Jane Barlow/PA
Nicola Sturgeon formally resigns as First Minister of Scotland this morning - Jane Barlow/PA

10:49 AM

Treasury agrees £3bn for NHS pay deals

The Treasury has agreed more than £3bn funding for NHS pay deals as unions begin balloting on the offer, The Telegraph understands.

Ministers have promised that the offer to more than one million NHS staff - including nurses, midwives and ambulance staff - will not drain funds from frontline services.

Under the terms, workers would receive a bonus of between £1,655 and £3,800 this financial year, while most would get a five per cent rise next year - with a higher increase for the lowest paid. Downing Street has said the total package will cost £4bn, with a 3.5 per cent increase next year already factored into NHS budgets.

This leaves around £1bn to be found from “reprioritisation” of existing budgets, which ministers say will not hit frontline services.

You can read the full story here.

10:31 AM

Alex Salmond warns Humza Yousaf against putting independence campaign on the 'back burner'

Alex Salmond has warned Humza Yousaf not to put the campaign for Scottish independence on the "back burner" as he said doing so would likely cost the SNP at the ballot box.

The former first minister said Mr Yousaf needed to run a competent government at Holyrood while also setting out a compelling plan for delivering independence.

He told Times Radio: "If Humza, for example, and I am not saying he will, but let’s say he takes the advice of the siren voices telling him to put independence on the back burner, if he does that the SNP will be not wiped out but will have a very torrid Westminster election campaign next year."

He added: "What he has to do is carry forward the trick of running the Holyrood parliament well so your record is unimpeachable in terms of minding the shop and pursue the independence campaign so you have a unique selling point against the unionist parties."

10:10 AM

'Certainly there is work to be done...'

It was suggested to Alex Salmond this morning that the prospect of Scottish independence is now further away than it has been at any point in the last decade.

The former SNP leader told Times Radio: "Certainly there is work to be done and certainly one of the criticisms that myself and many people have had of the direction of the SNP is it hasn’t had that independence strategy which is essential for a national party to have."

10:07 AM

Alex Salmond 'not confident' Humza Yousaf will deliver Scottish independence

Alex Salmond, the former first minister of Scotland and now the leader of the Alba Party, said he is "not confident" that Humza Yousaf will deliver independence.

Mr Salmond was asked during an interview this morning on Times Radio if he was confident that Mr Yousaf is the man to finish the job on delivering independence.

He said: "No, not confident. It is to be determined. It now depends on what exactly he does as first minister. He has the crown, he has to demonstrate that he can wear it with confidence and verve."

09:37 AM

'Much too early' to 'write off' Humza Yousaf, says Lord Hague

Lord Hague, the former leader of the Conservative Party, said Humza Yousaf is facing a "formidably difficult task" as he takes over from Nicola Sturgeon but it is "much too early to write him off".

He told Times Radio: "I think he is in this very uncomfortable position. Yes, he is the continuity candidate so he inherits all the problems. He has been, as Kate Forbes pointed out, the minister for most things and they haven’t gone very well.

"So he has got all of that baggage and he has got to try to live up to what she [Ms Sturgeon] was good at doing actually, at looking like she was conducting things well and keeping the hope of independence alive.

"So he does have all of those problems. It is a formidably difficult task for him. But… there is always going to be 40, 45 per cent of people for the time being supporting independence, probably voting for the SNP.

"That means we can’t take anything for granted in Scotland and it is much too early to write him off."

09:29 AM

Pictured: Ministers arrive in Downing Street for Cabinet meeting

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, arrives in Downing Street this morning - Yui Mok /PA
Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, arrives in Downing Street this morning - Yui Mok /PA
Grant Shapps, the Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary, is pictured arriving in Downing Street this morning - Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
Grant Shapps, the Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary, is pictured arriving in Downing Street this morning - Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

09:27 AM

Lord Hague warns against 'underestimating' Humza Yousaf

Lord Hague, the former leader of the Conservative Party, said the SNP's opponents should not "underestimate" Humza Yousaf.

He told Times Radio: "We shouldn’t underestimate the new first minister. He has just won a very fiercely contested election.

"He will be trying to show there is a way forward for the independence agenda and we all have to show how we can pull the United Kingdom together better in the next 10, 20 years than the last 10 or 20 years."

09:25 AM

How is the Scottish first minister elected?

Any MSP can put them self forward to be first minister.

The nominees will have the chance to speak in support of their candidacy and once they have done so all MSPs will be asked to vote for their preferred candidate.

The winner is the person who secures the backing of a simple majority.

They will then be formally appointed to the role by the King.

08:45 AM

Scottish Greens will back Humza Yousaf at first minister vote

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: "We will be supporting Humza Yousaf today so we can carry on with the Bute House Agreement."

The Scottish Greens, who agreed the Bute House powersharing deal with the SNP, had signalled that they would not work with defeated leadership candidate Kate Forbes if she was elected as the country’s next first minister.

Ms Slater said: "The Scottish Greens are very glad that we are able to continue to work in a progressive agenda within the Scottish Government."

08:38 AM

Scottish Tory leader expected to challenge Humza Yousaf at first minister vote

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is expected to put himself forward in the vote for first minister at Holyrood this afternoon in a symbolic challenge to Humza Yousaf and the SNP.

Asked why he would do so, Mr Ross told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: "I think it’s obvious that Humza Yousaf has the wrong priorities for Scotland.

"During the leadership election he focused on independence above everything else and therefore I think it’s right that the people of Scotland hear voices within Parliament who take a different approach and the Scottish Conservatives are very clear that the focus should be on the real priorities of people across Scotland – that’s solving the cost-of-living crisis, enabling our NHS to get back on a stronger footing, improving our economy, our education system, all of those issues were put to the side by Humza Yousaf during the election to become leader of the SNP."

The election of Mr Yousaf as first minister is viewed as a formality because while the SNP is just a fraction short of having an overall majority at Holyrood it enjoys the support of the Scottish Greens. Between them the two parties have a fairly comfortable majority.

08:33 AM

Labour will need to win over pro-independence voters to boost chances in Scotland, says polling expert

The Labour Party will have to win over more pro-independence voters if it is to make further electoral gains in Scotland, Sir John Curtice has said.

The polling expert told TalkTV: "The vast majority of people who are in favour if independence are voting for the SNP and the vast majority of people who are opposed to independence are not voting for the SNP.

"That said, the Labour Party is the one unionist party that has some ability to appeal to some people who are in favour of independence but are not necessarily going to vote for the SNP.

"The crucial question is whether or not the Labour Party can increase that constituency. I certainly think if Labour's vote is going to go up above the 30 per cent mark, assuming there isn't some dramatic collapse in support for independence, they are going to have to try to win over more 'yes' supporters."

08:22 AM

Labour could take 10 seats from SNP if latter's lead stays at 10 points - Sir John Curtice

Labour could win 10 seats from the SNP at a general election if the latter's lead remains at about 10 points, a polling expert has suggested.

Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, said if Labour stays at about 30 per cent of support it could pick up numerous seats from Humza Yousaf's party.

He told TalkTV: "I think the Labour Party will certainly feel they have an opportunity and they are quite right to feel that way. They are now running at around 30 per cent in Scotland. That leaves them only 10 points behind the SNP.

"The reason why that matters is that kind of level of lead, the Labour Party begins to pick up seats from the SNP. There are around 10 seats at the moment in Scotland which might fall to Labour if the SNP lead across Scotland as a whole is down to 10 points."

A Redfield & Wilton Strategies poll conducted at the start of March put the SNP on 39 per cent of the vote and Labour in second place on 29 per cent.

08:07 AM

'We must defend Scottish democracy and devolution'

Humza Yousaf’s campaign manager has said the new SNP leader will seek to "defend democracy" by pressing ahead with controversial gender reforms which have been blocked by the UK Government (you can read the original story here).

Neil Gray, who is also the Scottish culture minister, told Times Radio: "I think there is an important principle at stake here.

"Of course he is going to listen to the legal advice – he has to do that – but there is an important principle at stake which is about the democracy and the democratic mandate given to the Scottish Parliament that must be defended.

"A two-thirds majority passed the Gender Recognition Bill in the Scottish Parliament. MSPs from every single political party supported it, so it is right now that Humza Yousaf – at the first time that section 35 of the Scotland Act has been used – tests that and challenges it, because democracy is at stake.

"We must defend Scottish democracy and devolution. Otherwise, what is the point?"

08:05 AM

Will Forbes and Regan be given jobs in Yousaf administration?

Neil Gray, Humza Yousaf's campaign manager and an SNP MSP, said there are "conversations to be had" about the shape of the new leader's Holyrood administration after being asked if defeated leadership hopefuls Kate Forbes and Ash Regan would be offered roles.

Mr Gray told Times Radio: "There are conversations to be had about government going forward and the make-up, the structure and those that are involved in government.

"I’ll leave it to Humza to have those conversations over the coming days."

08:00 AM

Scottish independence campaign 'at a tipping point', says Humza Yousaf ally

The campaign for Scottish independence is now at a "tipping point", a leading ally of Humza Yousaf said this morning.

Neil Gray, an SNP MSP who served as Mr Yousaf's campaign manager during the leadership race, said the party will now focus on "re-energising" support for breaking away from the UK.

He set a goal of "getting us to that sustained majority support for independence whereby the process" for securing independence "then takes care of itself".

He told Times Radio: "We are at a tipping point for independence. All the polls show sometimes ‘yes’ is marginally in the lead, sometimes ‘no’, we are at a tipping point.

"I think what is needed now is for us to finish the updated prospectus [for independence] in government for the party to mobilise behind that and for us to get out as a movement and speak to the people about the need for independence, the urgent need for independence.

"I have spoken about the cost-of-living crisis, the fact that we don’t have all the levers across the economy in order to respond to that and the fact that we have an energy rich country and yet we have people in fuel poverty. That is a dichotomy that we cannot accept any longer. We cannot afford not to be independent.

"So it is about building that movement, re-energising that movement and persuading people of the merits and the need for independence, getting us to that sustained majority support for independence whereby the process then takes care of itself."

07:56 AM

Poll: Just a quarter of Scots think country is on the right path

Only a quarter of Scots believe the country is heading in the right direction, a new poll has found, as Humza Yousaf prepares to become first minister this afternoon.

A survey by Ipsos found half of adults north of the border felt things in Scotland were going in the wrong direction, with just a quarter saying the country was on the right path.

While 50 per cent said that generally speaking things were heading in the wrong direction and 25 per cent felt they were going in the right direction, 19 per cent said neither and six per cent of respondents were unsure.

The poll was carried out between March 17-21. The right direction/wrong direction numbers were similar to those recorded in Ipsos polls in October 2022 and January 2023.