Reform UK 'polling at almost half of Tory vote share' - live updates

Rishi Sunak - Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Rishi Sunak - Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Reform is polling at almost half of the Conservative vote share, a poll published on Friday has suggested.

The Conservatives are down one percentage point to 20 per cent in the latest survey carried out by People Polling, a firm founded in recent months by academic and pollster Matthew Goodwin.

Reform, led by Richard Tice, are on nine per cent and have increased their share of the vote.

Sir Keir Starmer's Labour has increased its lead by one percentage point, polling at 47 per cent. The Tories fell to a low of 14 per cent in People Polling data on October 21 as Liz Truss's government rapidly collapsed.

But Friday's polling suggests there is a growing threat on the Right for Mr Sunak amid fears of an exodus to Reform, as well as appearing to confirm any "honeymoon period" enjoyed by the Prime Minister is over.

In a more optimistic finding for CCHQ, a separate poll by Savanta ComRes saw a 10-point swing from Labour to the Conservatives, creating a gap of just 11 per cent.

Follow the latest updates below.

03:59 PM

That's all for this week...

Thank you for joining me today on what appeared to be a day of mixed fortune for Rishi Sunak.

While one poll suggested Labour's lead among voters had dropped to just 11 points, another suggested Reform UK, Richard Tice's grassroots Right-wing party, was polling at almost half of Mr Sunak's party's vote share.

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak said "all options" were on the table as the current wave of public sector strikes continues, with the first ever walkout by the Royal College for Nursing (RCN) scheduled for next Thursday.

My colleague Jack Maidment will be back on Monday to guide you through all of next week's big political stories.

03:53 PM

Police refuse to drive ambulances during strikes

Police chiefs have refused a request from the ambulance service for support during the strikes, amid rising anger over pay, our crime editor Martin Evans can reveal.

Ambulance bosses are understood to have approached forces about using officers to drive vehicles during the forthcoming industrial action.

But police chiefs have rejected the request, insisting they do not have the resources available to step in and help the NHS.

03:34 PM

BBC appoints private equity veteran as end of licence fee looms

The BBC has appointed City veteran Sir Damon Buffini to be its deputy chairman as the broadcaster grapples with a squeeze on the licence fee and questions over its future funding.

Sir Damon was a founding partner of investment firm Permira and was one of the best-known names in private equity in the early 2000s.

He was a bete noire for trade unions after Permira pushed through job cuts at companies including the AA and Bird’s Eye at the height of the global financial crisis.

His appointment is part of efforts by the BBC to bolster the commercial side of its business as licence fee funding comes under pressure.

James Warrington has the full story

03:00 PM

Kwasi Kwarteng says he and Liz Truss 'blew it'

Liz Truss's short-lived government "blew it" during its time in charge of the country, her former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has said.

Mr Kwarteng said Ms Truss's seven weeks in Downing Street, which culminated in her loss of complete political authority and resignation, saw her top team get "carried away".

Reflecting on the sweeping tax cuts and economic reforms he unveiled as part of the mini-Budget, Mr Kwarteng told the Financial Times: "It was very exciting, you felt you were part of a project."

But the measures, announced just two weeks after the multi-billion energy support package, would go on to spook the markets and saw the pound sink to its lowest level in 37 years.

Read the full story here

02:35 PM

Rishi Sunak tweets after RAF visit

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02:30 PM

Lord Frost hits out at Harry and Meghan over Brexit

Lord Frost has hit out at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over a link their new documentary appears to draw between Brexit and racism.

James Holt, the executive director of the Sussexes' Archewell Foundation, claimed in one of the episodes Brexit was a "perfect storm that gave credence to jingoism and nationalism", adding: "[It] gave people with really horrible views on the world a little bit more strength and confidence to say what they wanted to say, to do whatever they wanted to do."

The documentary also used footage of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage during the leave campaign in an attempt to illustrate the point.

Speaking to MailPlus, Lord Frost insisted: "This smear just does not stand up to examination.

"All opinion surveys show that Britain is an unusually welcoming country to people of all backgrounds, has among the lowest levels of racism in Europe, and is most positive about diversity."

02:17 PM

'We must hold Iran to account'

The most senior Iranian diplomat in Britain has been summoned by the Government after the killing of Mohsen Shekari.

Shekari, a 23-year-old, was the first known prisoner to be executed by the Iranian regime for their involvement in the current wave of protests against Tehran.

"In response to this, the UK has summoned the Iranian charge d'affaires," James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, said this afternoon.

"Today we have sanctioned Iranian court judges and prison officials linked to the oppression of protesters. We must hold Iran to account."

02:00 PM

Rishi Sunak: Army will miss Christmas this year

01:25 PM

Ambulance strikes 2022: When they are and what to do if you need emergency help

Britain is braced for the biggest ambulance strike action in 30 years later this month.

Tens of thousands of ambulance workers across the country will walk out in a dispute over pay after three unions announced coordinated strike action with paramedics and 999 call handlers.

They voted for strike action over the Government’s four per cent pay award amid soaring inflation, which currently stands at 11 per cent.

All three unions, representing around 25,000 ambulance workers, will walk out in a coordinated strike on Dec 21. The action will involve paramedics, call handlers and emergency care assistants at 10 of the 11 trusts in England and Wales.

Read our full explainer here

12:59 PM

Cleverly criticised for silence over Rwandan rebels behind massacre

The UK has been accused of refusing to name and shame Rwanda for allegedly supporting a rebel army behind the recent execution of more than 130 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In an interview with the Telegraph on Wednesday, James Cleverly, the British foreign secretary, declined three times to say whether Kigali was supporting, funding or arming the M23 militia.

The US, UN experts and DR Congo have all linked Rwanda to the armed group, which has been waging a campaign of murder, rape, kidnapping and looting in the DRC.

Mr Cleverly said that there was no link between the Conservative government's Rwanda migration policy and their silence over Kigali's role in the horrors in eastern DR Congo.

Will Brown, our Africa Correspondent, has more here

12:44 PM

The only way is Sussex

Rishi Sunak does not back calls for a new law to strip the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of their Royal titles (see 9.14am).

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told journalists this lunchtime: "I believe you are referring to a Private Member’s Bill which we do not support."

Bob Seely, who plans to propose the legislation, is not the only Conservative backbencher who has called for Harry and Meghan to lose their current titles.

Tim Loughton, the MP for the East Worthing and Shoreham in the county, tweeted last night: "As a Member of Parliament for a Sussex constituency, and having been born in Sussex and lived most of my life here, I am ashamed that this deeply embarrassing couple bear the title of our great county.

"It is time to take the title back from someone so clearly lacking any respect."

12:41 PM

Happier reading for Rishi Sunak

It seems today's opinion polls (see 12.22pm) are dramatically varied - with the latest from Savanta ComRes showing a 10-point swing away from Labour to the Conservative.s

Labour are on 42 per cent (down five percentage points) with the Conservatives on 31 per cent (up five).

Sunak - Joe Giddens
Sunak - Joe Giddens

The Liberal Democrats are on 10 per cent, Reform on five per cent (in contrast with the People Polling data) and the Greens on three per cent.

12:22 PM

Labour retains comfortable poll lead

Difficult reading for Rishi Sunak this lunchtime in the form of the latest data from the People Polling firm.

The Conservatives are down one percentage point to 20 per cent, with Sir Keir Starmer's Labour up one on 47 per cent and Reform UK (nine per cent) in third place, having overtaking the Liberal Democrats (eight per cent).

The Tory Party fell to a low of 14 per cent in People Polling data on October 21 as Liz Truss's government rapidly collapsed.

Nonetheless, today's polling suggests there is a threat on the Right for Mr Sunak, as well as appearing to confirm any "honeymoon period" enjoyed by the Prime Minister is well and truly over.

11:48 AM

Markets up after Hunt's financial reforms

The FTSE 100 has edged higher as financial stocks rose following the Government's overhaul of regulations on the sector  in a bid to maintain the City of London as one of the most competitive financial hubs in the world, writes Chris Price.

The blue chip index and the domestically-focused FTSE 250 were up 0.1pc each, although they are on track to end the week lower.

It came as Rishi Sunak insisted that regulation of the financial services sector remains "robust" despite the relaxation of banking safeguards introduced after the 2008 crisis.

"Today's reforms will ensure the industry remains competitive, we can create more jobs, but of course this will always be a safe place where consumers will be protected," he said.

11:25 AM

Truss a 'big setback' for small-state conservatives

The market chaos that followed Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-Budget was a "big setback" for fiscal conservatives, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.

"We now have the highest taxes for 70 years, and there is no challenge to that," Mr Rees-Mogg, who was Ms Truss's business secretary, told the Financial Times.

"There's a long way to go for people with my beliefs to win this argument."

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section - why did Kwarteng and Truss 'blow it'? Should they have been given more time? And what should the Tory Right do next?

11:22 AM

We will look at 'all options' on strike laws, says Sunak

Rishi Sunak said this morning he would look at "all options" when asked about laws to stop emergency service walkouts amid a wake of strikes.

Speaking on a visit to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, the Prime Minister seemed to rule out meeting union pay rise demands, which the Government claims would come at a cost of £1,000 per family each year.

Rishi Sunak speaking on a trip to RAF Coningsby - Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Rishi Sunak speaking on a trip to RAF Coningsby - Joe Giddens/PA Wire

"I'm not going to get into details now, we're looking at all options," Mr Sunak told reporters.

"But what I can say is my priority is to always be reasonable - and that's what we're going to continue to do - but also to make sure we protect lives and minimise the disruption to people's lives."

10:56 AM

Simon Clarke backs new grassroots Tory group

Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary, has given his backing to a new grassroots Conservative group.

Next Gen Tories launched its social media profiles this morning, describing itself as "the campaign calling for the Conservative Party to focus on the policy priorities of the under-45s - housing, childcare and the cost of living".

Mr Clarke, the campaigning organisation's first "parliamentary champion', said: "We need to foucs on the things that matter most to the next generation - affordable homes to buy and rent, readily accessible childcare, delivering a successful green economy [and] more money in pockets through lowering taxes.

"The solutions that will deliver this list can be innately Conservative - or defined by those who want a bigger state and higher taxes. This is a big challenge for my party, but a huge opportunity too."

10:35 AM

'With Sir Keir’s Labour, we still face the old danger'

Too many Conservatives seem to have written off the next election already. Channelling Private Frazer in Dad’s Army, they wail that we are all doomed and the party needs to reconcile itself to opposition, writes Lord Frost.

"It won’t be so bad," they say. "Keir Starmer won’t do the damage Corbyn would have, and anyway maybe middle England quite likes 'dull' nowadays."

Keir Starmer - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Keir Starmer - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

If you are one of the Conservative supporters tempted to think this, I urge you to think again. For all the differences of view within the Conservative parliamentary party, its centre of gravity is still far from Labour's.

The Labour vision for the country is very different: it looks at Britain not as a country of free people but more in the way a surgeon looks at an unresisting patient etherised on the table. Just Look at what Labour has said or done in recent days.

Lord Frost on how Labour's core ideology remains the same

10:09 AM

Strep A lateral flow tests available in Wales but not England

Strep A lateral flow tests that cost £7.50 and can tell in less than five minutes if a person has the infection are available on the NHS in Wales but not in England due to a lack of funding, it has emerged.

The tests help to ensure only people who need antibiotics get them, as well as reassure people with viral infections that they do not need drugs and help to fight the rise of superbugs, while also reducing the number of people seeing GPs for a sore throat.

However, they are not offered by NHS England, which opted not to fund the service, or stocked in English pharmacies.

Joe Pinkstone and Lizzie Roberts have the story

09:48 AM

Suella Braverman 'sidelined' by Rishi Sunak, claims Labour

Yvette Cooper claimed this morning Suella Braverman had been "sidelined" by Rishi Sunak and was "excluding" her from key decisions around immigration.

Speaking to Times Radio, the shadow home secretary said: "He reappointed her and now he's sidelined her, and he's obviously excluding her from the decisions. So that in itself is chaotic.

"If you've got Suella Braverman saying one thing, you've got Robert Jenrick saying another, you've got Rishi Sunak saying something else entirely... We've had eight immigration ministers and six home secretaries in the last seven years alone. That's what the Conservatives have done in the way that they have been treating this."

Ms Cooper went on to accuse the Tories of "rhetoric" rather than practical plans to solve the asylum crisis, as she set out Labour's own vision to fast-track decisions around claims from safe countries including Albania.

09:43 AM

Bob Seely accuses Harry and Meghan of 'Netflix narcissism'

A Tory backbencher has accused the Duke and Duchess of Sussex of "Netflix narcissism" in response to their incendiary new Netflix show.

"Harry and Meghan Windsor's Netflix narcissism isn’t just a case of monetising misery, family dysfunction or sad soap opera," Mr Seely wrote on Twitter this morning.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex as seen in their new Netflix series Harry & Meghan
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex as seen in their new Netflix series Harry & Meghan

"The royals are part of the UK constitution and when Windsor trashes [the] family, he trashes it. Let's not pretend it's not political.

"Harry Windsor should voluntarily relinquish his titles. If he doesn't, Parliament should act to remove them. If Harry Windsor doesn't like the monarchy, don't be part of it, but don't use your titles and trash the institution."

09:38 AM

James Cleverly unveils 30 new sanctions

The Foreign Secretary has announced 30 sanctions across nearly a dozen countries targeted at individuals accused of human rights abuses, corruption and sexual violence.

James Cleverly unveiled sanctions which cover the likes of Mian Abdul Haq, a Muslim cleric from Pakistan, responsible for forced conversions and marriages of girls and women from religious minoritie, and General Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police in Uganda who oversaw units responsible for human rights violations.

Speaking on International Anti-Corruption Day and Human Rights Day, Mr Cleverly said: "It is our duty to promote free and open societies around the world.

"Today our sanctions go further to expose those behind the heinous violations of our most fundamental rights to account. We are committed to using every lever at our disposal to secure a future of freedom over fear."

09:18 AM

Britain to work with Italy and Japan on fighter jets

Britain will work to develop next-generation fighter jets with Italy and Japan, Rishi Sunak has announced.

"To protect our people and our allies we need to stay at the cutting-edge of advancements in defence," the Prime Minister wrote on Twitter in the last few minutes.

"That is why PM Kishida, PM Meloni and I have today agreed the development of the next-generation of combat aircraft – creating jobs and bolstering our security."

An artist's impression on what the final design for the fighter jets could look like - Downing Street/PA
An artist's impression on what the final design for the fighter jets could look like - Downing Street/PA

He is set to launch the first major phase of the programme during a visit to RAF Coniungsby in Lincolnshire.

Mr Sunak added the defence partnership will ensure the UK and allies are "outpacing and out-manoeuvring those who seek to do us harm".

09:14 AM

MP plans bill to strip Harry and Meghan of royal titles

Harry and Meghan could be stripped of their Sussexes titles in the new year through a vote in the House of Commons, an MP has suggested.

The Netflix documentary which aired yesterday has now become "a political issue", according to Conservative MP Bob Seely.

Harry, who moved to the US to live with his wife Meghan after splitting from the Royal family two years ago, has been criticised for attacking important institutions in Britain during the couple's tell-all Netflix documentary.

In it, Harry accused the royals of having a "huge level of unconscious bias" and Meghan said the media wanted to "destroy" her.

Read the full story here

09:10 AM

Yvette Cooper not drawn on Labour's NHS pay plan

Yvette Cooper declined three times to say whether Labour would look at "higher pay rises" for NHS staff.

It came after Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, went further than his other shadow cabinet colleagues by hinting he could support a pay deal beyond the 4.5 per cent currently being offered to nurses.

Pressed on Mr Streeting's comments, Ms Cooper told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: "Rachel said you can't epic numbers out of thin air because that has to be part of the negotiations.

"But we would take a different approach to negotiations. Let's be very clear about that. We wouldn't have this kind of level of industrial dispute taking place under a Labour government... We would show respect for our key workers."

08:47 AM

Tom Tugendhat: Cowardice and corruption are eviscerating an entire generation of Russians

In February, we saw what corruption truly costs - lives. Based on the flawed intelligence of corrupted spies, Russian troops launched a criminal invasion of Ukraine to protect a regime that has stolen from its own people for decades, writes Tom Tugendhat, the security minister.

The failure was not just down to the extraordinary courage of the Ukrainian forces, but their own generals. Before the tanks had moved an inch, the heirs to Russia’s once-feared KGB had squirrelled away the millions supposedly spent on influence and intelligence.

The generals did the same with logistics. Senior military officers watered down the fuel and flogged the rest. They sold food and water and their men are now freezing. Even factories miles from the front have dumped supplies on the market in exchange for a fast buck.

The result - soldiers were sent to war underfed, under-gunned and under-prepared.

Tom Tugendhat: How we all pay the price for kleptocracies

08:33 AM

End 'wishy-washy' dilemma over Just Stop Oil, urges police chief

Ken Marsh, the chairman of the Met Police Federation, has said the Government provide "far clearer" guidance to help officers react to Just Stop Oil demonstrations.

"If we weren't there, the people who are doing this would get attacked by members of the public, as you've seen in France and other places where this has happened," Mr Marsh told LBC.

"If the legislation was far clearer and if my officers were clearly instructed by senior officers as to what you can and can't do, and you will be fully backed if you could do it, we wouldn't be in this situation."

This, Mr Marsh added, would help police to "react immediately" to instructions "rather than the wishy-washy scenarios we're being faced with".

08:29 AM

Street harassment will bring two years in prison

Men who sexually harass women on the street or on public transport will face two years in jail under a new offence to be backed by the Government.

The Home Office will support proposals to amend the 1986 Public Order Act to create a new offence of "public sexual harassment" following a public consultation.

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, said: "Every woman should feel safe to walk our streets without fear of harassment or violence. And that is why we are supporting this bill to introduce a specific offence on public sexual harassment.

"We are putting the needs of victims at the heart of our decision, which will mean the criminals who commit these acts face the consequences they deserve."

Charles Hymas, our Home Affairs Editor, has more

08:15 AM

A trickle or a flood?

Rishi Sunak’s strategy to project competence since replacing Liz Truss as Prime Minister seven weeks ago has been to keep a low profile and get on with the job, writes Christopher Hope, our Associate Editor.

But politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum, and the lack of visibility from the new leader – coupled with a sense of drift over public sector strikes and immigration – means Tory supporters are starting to vote with their feet.

Yesterday, The Telegraph revealed that Cllr David White has resigned from his role as the Conservative Party’s South Yorkshire area chairman and will be standing for Reform UK in Barnsley at the next election.

Rishi Sunak - Jessica Taylor/Handout
Rishi Sunak - Jessica Taylor/Handout

He said: "The Conservative Party has changed, with them being unable or unwilling to make the big decisions. I am convinced that they are not in tune with the working people here in Barnsley and across the UK."

The party grassroots have every right to grumble. They have been saddled with a leader in Mr Sunak for whom they have not voted and a Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, who has driven up taxes to eye-watering levels.

Analysis: How disillusioned Tories are voting with their feet

08:13 AM

Breaking: Jeremy Hunt's sweeping post-Brexit reforms

Jeremy Hunt has vowed to make Britain one of the world's "most open, dynamic and competitive financial services hubs" as he sets out sweeping post-Brexit reforms to the City that campaigners have dubbed "Big Bang 2.0".

Billed as the biggest shake-up since Margaret Thatcher's wave of deregulation in the 1980s, the Chancellor's proposals - published online this morning - include:

  • a relaxation of rules on what banks can do with their money

  • a new requirement for regulators to make London more competitive internationally

  • scrapping red tape that holds back the stock market

Chris Price has more on our business live blog

08:10 AM

Yvette Cooper refuses to say if Labour would meet nurses' pay demands

Yvette Cooper refused to confirm whether nurses would receive the 19 per cent pay rise they are demanding under a Labour government.

Around 100,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will walk out on December 15 and December 20. They have been offered a 4.5 per cent pay rise, in line with the recommendations of an independent pay review board.

Ms Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said it was "a matter for negotiations" in which ministers should be directly involved.

"In terms of the approach that a Labour government would take, then we want to make sure that people are fairly paid for the jobs that they do," she told Good Morning Britain.

"That means tackling the cost-of-living crisis, but it also means, crucially, growing the economy so that people can be paid more."

08:02 AM

Kwasi Kwarteng: We 'blew it' while in charge of the country

Liz Truss's short-lived government "blew it" during its time in charge of the country, her former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has said.

Mr Kwarteng made the comments in a detailed long read in the Financial Times this morning, which explores the behind-the-scenes drama and fallout from Ms Truss's seven politically chaotic weeks in charge.

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng - Andrew Parsons/CCHQ/Parsons Media
Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng - Andrew Parsons/CCHQ/Parsons Media

He told the paper: "My biggest regret is we weren’t tactically astute and we were too impatient. There was a brief moment and the people in charge, myself included, blew it."

07:59 AM

Good morning

Dominic Penna here, the Telegraph's Political Reporter taking you through the day in Westminster.

Labour would 'fast-track' asylum claims from safe countries like Albania, the shadow home secretary said this morning as she urged Suella Braverman to "get a grip" of the migration crisis.

Yvette Cooper called for the introduction of a so-called safe list of countries so certain applications could be dealt with "much more swiftly".

As our home affairs editor Charles Hymas reported this week, at least 12,000 Albanian migrants have crossed the Channel so far this year - accounting for some 30 per cent of the record 44,000 small boat arrivals.