Politics news – live: Diphtheria cases rise by 50 per cent but public risk ‘low’

New data has revealed a 50 per cent rise in the number of cases of diptheria in the past month, while two asylum-seekers have been hospitalised with the disease.

Health secretary Steve Barclay has insisted the risk of the public getting diphtheria is “very low” despite an expected rise in the number of infections being recorded.

He said hundreds of migrants were vaccinated against the highly contagious disease before being moved out of the Manston processing centre in Kent to hotels around the country, but stressed the situation was being monitored “closely”.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) had identified 39 diphtheria cases among asylum seekers in England this year by 10 November. The number is understood to have risen to about 50, with officials expected to confirm the figure later.

Asked about the risk to the general public, he added: “The risk is very low, partly because there is very high uptake of vaccination within the British public in the first place.

“But also we had a targeted action of vaccinations at Manston and so 500 people were vaccinated before they actually left Manston, and it’s something that UKHSA are monitoring extremely closely.”

Key points

  • More asylum seekers hospitalised with diphtheria as infections rise by 50% after Manston centre death

  • ‘Low’ diphtheria risk to public despite spread from Manston asylum centre

  • Health chiefs acted to stop diphtheria outbreak at asylum centre, minister insists

  • Shapps hints Matt Hancock believes his political career is ‘pretty much done’

  • UK’s trade export growth slower than EU, US and G7 countries under Tories

  • Rishi Sunak should seek new Brexit deal with EU, says Tony Blair think tank

Monday 28 November 2022 03:57 , Namita Singh

Welcome to The Independent’s UK politics blog for Monday, 28 November 2022 where we provide the latest on everything happening in Westminster.

Matt Hancock to face angry colleagues and constituents after leaving I’m A Celeb

Monday 28 November 2022 04:23 , Namita Singh

Former health secretary Matt Hancock will return to face angry colleagues, constituents and questions about his political future in Westminster after coming third in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity.

The West Suffolk MP surpassed the expectations of many by reaching the final but came behind winner Jill Scott and Hollyoaks actor Owen Warner in a public vote on Sunday night.

His 18 days in the Australian jungle has seen him suspended from the Conservative parliamentary party and criticised by colleagues including Rishi Sunak.

Read more in this report about what his colleagues think about the stint:

Matt Hancock to face angry colleagues and constituents after leaving I’m A Celeb

UK’s trade export growth slower than EU, US and G7 countries under Tories

Monday 28 November 2022 04:40 , Namita Singh

Britain’s export growth has fallen well behind that of other major countries, including Germany and the US, since the Tories came to power, new analysis shows.

Figures collated by the House of Commons Library show that UK trade exports grew just 24.4 per cent between 2010 and 2021, representing the lowest rate of growth among G7 countries apart from Japan.

The EU averaged export growth of 35.5 per cent during the same period, while the US saw a 37 per cent boost and Germany averaged 34.5 per cent – all substantially better than the UK.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more:

UK’s trade export growth slower than EU, US and G7 countries under Tories

Rishi Sunak should seek new Brexit deal with EU, says Tony Blair think tank

Monday 28 November 2022 05:00 , Namita Singh

Rishi Sunak should “revisit” the Brexit trade deal already agreed with the EU as part of an effort to forge closer economic ties with the bloc, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has said.

The think tank said it was time to consider ways to improve on the trade and cooperation agreement (TCA) signed by Boris Johnson, which is due for review at the end of 2025.

It comes as new analysis revealed that UK export growth has fallen well behind that of other major economies, including Germany and France, despite claims by the Conservative government that Brexit would boost British business abroad.

My colleague Adam Forrest has more:

Rishi Sunak should seek new Brexit deal with EU, says Tony Blair think tank

Shapps warns energy firms not to hike bills of customers cutting use

Monday 28 November 2022 05:20 , Namita Singh

Business secretary Grant Shapps has written to energy suppliers to warn them not overcharge customers making “huge efforts” to cut their usage.

The cabinet minister said he was “disturbed” at reports that some customers had seen a huge spike in direct debit charges despite cutting back on the amount of gas and electricity.

Mr Shapps urged the utility giants to reflect what homes are actually using in their prices, as hard-pressed families struggle to pay bills struggling during the cost of living crisis.

Adam Forrest reports:

Grant Shapps warns energy firms not to hike bills of customers cutting use

Government urged to bring forward plan to tackle cancer treatment backlog

Monday 28 November 2022 05:40 , Namita Singh

The government must say whether it intends to bring forward new plans to address the cancer treatment backlog in the wake of the pandemic, the new Tory chairman of the health and social care committee has said.

Conservative MP Steve Brine expressed doubt that the government still intended to bring forward a new cancer treatment plan.

The former health minister also claimed that holding the government’s feet to the fire over the backlog would be his top priority, following his election by MPs to the committee chairmanship in early November.

Read more in this report:

Government urged to bring forward plan to tackle cancer treatment backlog

Revealed: Suella Braverman’s trips to Rwanda to teach government lawyers

Monday 28 November 2022 06:00 , Namita Singh

Suella Braverman gave lessons to Rwandan government lawyers during trips supported by president Paul Kagame, The Independent can reveal.

The home secretary travelled to the country in 2008 and 2010, and later co-founded a charity that cooperated with the government in Kigali and trained lawyers now working inside Rwanda’s justice ministry.

At the time, she suggested that the country did not have a “properly functioning legal system”, but told MPs this week that Rwanda was a “fundamentally safe and secure country” suitable for receiving asylum seekers from the UK.

Our home affairs editor Lizzie Dearden reports in this exclusive:

Revealed: Suella Braverman’s trips to Rwanda to teach government lawyers

Slowdown in European doctors working in NHS following Brexit, says think tank

Monday 28 November 2022 06:20 , Namita Singh

More than 4,000 European doctors have opted not to work in the NHS following the Brexit vote in 2016, research has revealed.

According to analysis from the Nuffield Trust health think tank, the pre-Brexit number of doctor specialists working in the NHS in 2021 was forecast to be 41,321.

However the research, which was conducted on behalf of The Guardian, shows the actual figure for 2021 to be 37,035 - more than 4,000 less than the pre-EU referendum projections.

Report:

Slowdown in European doctors working in NHS following Brexit, says think tank

Sunak wants vaccine taskforce-style strategy to tackle NHS missions

Monday 28 November 2022 06:40 , Namita Singh

Rishi Sunak hopes a “blueprint” inspired by the coronavirus vaccine rollout will help tackle the NHS’s four “healthcare missions” of cancer, obesity, mental health and addiction.

The prime minister has announced more than £113m in funding for research into cutting-edge treatments and technologies with the aim of encouraging breakthroughs.

Each mission will be led by an independent expert, with each one being chosen by an expert panel including Dame Kate Bingham, who headed the vaccine taskforce.

More in this report:

Sunak wants vaccine taskforce-style strategy to tackle NHS missions

Shapps launches £1bn scheme to insulate middle-income homes

Monday 28 November 2022 06:50 , Namita Singh

A £1bn scheme to make middle-income homes more energy efficient is being launched along with a public information campaign advising people how to cut power usage.

Energy secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the new Eco+ scheme to extend support for insulating homes as he tries to get households to reduce energy consumption.

Labour criticised it as a "reheated announcement with no new resources" that comes "far too little too late".

Hundreds of thousands of households could receive loft and cavity wall insulation under the scheme running for three years from spring.

Energy secretary Grant Shapps arrives in Downing Street in central London to attend a cabinet meeting ahead of the government’s full budget statement on 17 November 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)
Energy secretary Grant Shapps arrives in Downing Street in central London to attend a cabinet meeting ahead of the government’s full budget statement on 17 November 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

It is predominantly being targeted at households that do not currently get support to upgrade homes, though a fifth of the funding will be targeted at the most vulnerable.

Some £18m will also be spent on a public information campaign giving advice about turning down boiler temperatures and radiators to save energy.

Reducing boiler flow temperatures from 75C to 60C and turning down radiators in empty rooms could save a typical household £160 per year, according to the guidance to be published on the help for households website.

Mr Shapps said: "A new Eco scheme will enable thousands more to insulate their homes, protecting the pounds in their pockets and creating jobs across the country.

"And in the short term, our new public information campaign will also give people the tools they need to reduce their energy use while keeping warm this winter."

More than 50 Tory MPs seek change to modern slavery laws to ease migrant crisis

Monday 28 November 2022 07:00 , Namita Singh

Rishi Sunak has been urged by more than 50 Tory MPs to change modern slavery laws with emergency legislation in a bid to reduce small boat crossings of the channel.

The prime minister was pressed by the group, including former cabinet ministers, to rapidly implement a “simple” change in the law to help tackle the issue.

They want changes to modern slavery laws to make it easier for people they believe are “bogus asylum seekers”, who say they are victims of trafficking, to be returned.

Read the details in this report:

More than 50 Tory MPs seek change to modern slavery laws to ease migrant crisis

UK ‘should admit failings before hosting summit on sexual violence in conflict’

Monday 28 November 2022 07:20 , Namita Singh

The UK government should admit its own failure to support survivors of sexual assault in conflict before holding a global summit on the issue, Amnesty International has said.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly will host representatives from around 70 countries at the International Ministerial Conference on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict in London today and tomorrow.

Mr Cleverly will announce a new support package to prevent these crimes as well as a three-year strategy that puts survivors at the centre of tackling it.

But Amnesty International has accused the government of hypocrisy over neglecting the rights of survivors in the UK.

The organisation said the country’s asylum system subjects women who have been victims of sexual violence to further traumatisation while a parliamentary Bill proposes to close criminal investigations into perpetrators during the Northern Ireland conflict.

Chiara Capraro, the women’s rights programme director in the UK for Amnesty International, said: "The hypocrisy of the government’s claim to be a global leader in preventing sexual violence in conflict is extremely stark when right here in the UK survivors of conflict-related sexual violence are subject to cruel and inhumane treatment.

"Survivors of wartime rape who are seeking a safe place to live in the UK have been re-traumatised by the UK’s brutal asylum processes and threatened with deportation to Rwanda.

"The government is also failing victims of sexual violence during the Northern Ireland conflict, with the worrying Northern Ireland Troubles Bill proposing to close criminal investigations of perpetrators.

The UK must get its own house in order before it can credibly lead an international summit on this issue. If the government really cares about the victims of sexual violence, it will start treating them fairly in the UK.

Chiara Capraro

PA

NHS strikes ‘harm everybody’, says Grant Shapps

Monday 28 November 2022 07:35 , Emily Atkinson

Business secretary Grant Shapps has said he does not recognise reports that the military are to be bought in to make up numbers for striking ambulance workers.

Mr Shapps told Sky News that although “the government looks at contingency plans, there aren’t any plans to do that.”

“Ideally I would love to see those strikes averted. I don’ think anyone wants to see strikes in our NHS: it harms everybody, it’s to no one’s advantage,” he added.

Asked layer if he believed nurses were worth a 19 per cent pay rise, Mr Shapps repeated: “We don’t want to see strikes in our NHS.”

“We all rely on it and we all want to see it functioning normally.”

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Shapps hints Matt Hancock believes his political career is ‘pretty much done’

Monday 28 November 2022 07:45 , Emily Atkinson

Business Secretary Grant Shapps said Matt Hancock’s stint in the jungle indicates he may have come to the conclusion his career in Westminster is “pretty much done”.

Mr Shapps told Times Radio: “I do think... that his true position should have been in Parliament this last few weeks, and serving his constituents.

“You know, it’s often said that... politics is showbusiness for ugly people. He should be with us uglies back in the House rather than the jungle down under.”

Asked if that means Mr Hancock should leave politics, he said: “I don’t know, I haven’t spoken to him about it but I suspect he may have already reached that conclusion.

“Why would you go off and spend all that time in the jungle if you were going to carry on in Parliament? I’m only speculating.

“But I do think the right place for him to be is in Parliament looking after his constituents. It’s a very hard job to do if you’re completely out of touch. And I think he may therefore have come to the conclusion that his parliamentary career is pretty much done.”

Shapps plays down onshore wind rebellion

Monday 28 November 2022 07:55 , Emily Atkinson

Business Secretary Grant Shapps played down the significance of the onshore wind rebellion.

Former prime ministers Liz Truss and Boris Johnson are among more than 20 Conservatives backing a pro-wind amendment to the Levelling Up Bill.

But Mr Shapps denied the challenge constituted a “row”, remarking: “It’s the most extraordinarily overwritten story I’ve read.”

“The fact that a backbencher has an amendment in is literally something that happens every single day in Parliament. And his amendment, which is saying something like local people should have final say, is actually exactly what Rishi said when he last spoke on it, and indeed what I’ve said on it in the past,” he told Times Radio.

Asked if he could see himself backing the amendment, he said: “I haven’t studied the detail of it and what it would mean yet. But one way or the other, it just strikes me it’s not really a row. We’re all basically saying the same thing. You need local consent if you’re going to have wind power onshore, because it can be quite a big imposition on the local environment.

“That seems to me to be what I’ve said, what Simon Clarke has said as the proposer of this amendment. It’s what the prime minister has said. So you know, I just don’t recognise the way this has been presented at all.”

Shapps says UK will see boost to onshore wind in future

Monday 28 November 2022 08:07 , Emily Atkinson

Business Secretary Grant Shapps said there will be more onshore wind in future.

“We already have quite a lot of onshore wind,” he told Sky News.

“There will be more over time, particularly where communities are in favour of it, and that is, I think, the key test for onshore wind - giving some benefit to communities locally.”

Cabinet minister hints at onshore wind ban climbdown as Tory revolt grows

Monday 28 November 2022 08:18 , Emily Atkinson

A cabinet minister has suggested Rishi Sunak will back down and lift his onshore wind farm ban to avoid a damaging defeat by Conservative rebels.

Grant Shapps, the business secretary, claimed the clash – at least 30 Tory MPs are demanding projects go ahead – is “not really a row” because both sides have the same aim.

“We’re all basically saying the same thing – you need local consent if you’re going to have wind power onshore,” Mr Shapps argued, playing down the significant of the revolt.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports:

Cabinet minister hints at onshore wind ban climbdown as Tory revolt grows

Onshore wind turbines can be an ‘eyesore if not done properly,’ says Shapps

Monday 28 November 2022 08:25 , Emily Atkinson

Business secretary Grant Shapps said onshore wind turbines can be an eyesore if “not done properly”.

“One thing you can do is, you know, remove them often from people’s eyelines. That’s a question of placement,” he told LBC.

“There is onshore power, there will be more onshore power in the future, but it needs to be done with consent of communities who perhaps benefit from some of that power, rather than imposed... all over the landscape, which I think is not likely to be something people want to see.”

Mr Shapps again played down the prospect of a Tory rebellion, insisting: “I don’t see it that way at all.

“I agree that we need to do these things with consent of local communities, which is actually essentially what all of us are saying.”

There’s no argument for asylum from Albania in UK, says David Davis

Monday 28 November 2022 08:44 , Emily Atkinson

Former Brexit secretary David Davis has inisted there is no argument for asylum from Albania in Britain.

“We want two things to happen,” he told Sky News after more than 50 MPs wrote to Rishi Sunak urging him to implement “simple” changes to legislation to reduce Channel crossings.

“One, such people should be told you can’t claim asylum here immediatley. A summary decision on that. There’s not argument for asylum for Albania here.

“Secondly, those who use the human trafficking laws, we should say to them, ‘Look, If you have been human-trafficked, surely the right answer is to put you back in your own home, in your own village, back in Albania’,” he said.

Mr Davis said he hoped to cutting the turnaround for Albanian asylum applications would be cut from years to “days or weeks.”

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'No excuse' for journalist covering China protests to be beaten by police, Grant Shapps says

Monday 28 November 2022 08:57 , Emily Atkinson

Inside Politics: 99 problems

Monday 28 November 2022 09:15 , Emily Atkinson

Sunak to deliver speech on foreign policy as problems on domestic front mount, writes Matt Mathers.

Catch his morning newsletter here:

Inside Politics: 99 problems

Shapps does not rule out PM baking planning bill amendment

Monday 28 November 2022 09:29 , Emily Atkinson

Business secretary Grant Shapps said there is “definitely” a contribution to be made by onshore wind, as he did not rule out Rishi Sunak backing former levelling-up secretary Simon Clarke’s amendment to the Levelling Up Bill.

The Cabinet minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There is definitely a contribution to be made by onshore wind. In fact, we reaffirmed that in some of the green policies that were published under Boris Johnson and others in recent times.

“So, we all believe the same thing. What we don’t think is that they (wind turbines) should just go up willy-nilly, sort of regardless of whether they have the support of the local community. But we do think they’re part of the mix.”

Asked if Mr Sunak would support Mr Clarke’s amendment, he said: “I don’t think either the prime minister or I have looked through all the planning ramifications of something which... is not about to come to a vote this week, for example.

“But we’ve been very clear that, regardless, local communities need to both support and ideally see the benefits from this.”

He said he has been “completely mystified” by headlines over the perceived rebellion, adding: “I’m not sure quite how everyone saying something very similar can be turned into anything as has been represented.”

Rishi Sunak should seek new Brexit deal with EU, says Tony Blair think tank

Monday 28 November 2022 10:00 , Emily Atkinson

Rishi Sunak should “revisit” the Brexit trade deal already agreed with the EU as part of an effort to forge closer economic ties with the bloc, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has said.

The think tank said it was time to consider ways to improve on the trade and cooperation agreement (TCA) signed by Boris Johnson, which is due for review at the end of 2025.

It comes as new analysis revealed that UK export growth has fallen well behind that of other major economies, including Germany and France, despite claims by the Conservative government that Brexit would boost British business abroad.

Our political correspondent Adam Forrest reports:

Rishi Sunak should seek new Brexit deal with EU, says Tony Blair think tank

Shapps urges struggling households to lower ‘boiler flow temperature'

Monday 28 November 2022 10:15 , Emily Atkinson

The business secretary has urged Britons worried about the cost of heating their homes to lower the “boiler flow temperature”, but insisted this did not mean the government was asking people to turn down their thermostats.

Grant Shapps told LBC: “We are not asking people to turn down their thermostats. What we’re asking people to do is turn down what’s called the boiler flow temperature, which is a temperature set on the boiler itself.”

He told the broadcaster that the switch can be found behind the the part of the boiler you pull down. In his case, this had been set to 80 degrees when it was installed.

“I moved it down to 60 degrees”, he said. “That’s the only change you make.”

Mr Shapps added: “The temperature in the house is the same. This is about the water when it reaches the radiator, so you can still set your radiator wherever you need to be, or your thermostat wherever you need it to be.”

He explained that “doing that alone can potentially save you hundreds of pounds” and “can help your boiler last for longer”.

Opinion: ‘It doesn’t matter that Matt Hancock didn’t win I’m A Celebrity – he got exactly what he wanted'

Monday 28 November 2022 10:39 , Emily Atkinson

If we’re being completely honest, Hancock played an absolute blinder with this whole reality TV gamble, even if he didn’t win, writes Ryan Coogan. He could very easily have just resigned from politics in disgrace and disappeared into the night, and gone back to his previous job as, I assume, a haunted ventriloquist puppet. But no, he said to himself, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to absolutely wreck the country and then have the decency to disappear into the ether so people never have to think about the pain I’ve caused them ever again. What am I, David Cameron? No, he said, I’m going to go on TV. I’m going to get myself in the papers. I’m going to eat a camel’s penis while sitting opposite a quietly furious Boy George.

Opinion: Matt Hancock didn’t win I’m A Celeb but he got exactly what he wanted

Send back all asylum seekers who are ‘victims’ of modern slavery, Tory MPs tell Rishi Sunak

Monday 28 November 2022 10:55 , Emily Atkinson

All asylum seekers who have been trafficked or are “victims” of modern slavery would be sent back to the countries they left, under hardline plans put forward by 50 Tory MPs.

The group – led by former cabinet ministers David Davis, Liam Fox and Esther McVey – claims the move would be “a common sense” solution to the crisis of small boats crossing the Channel.

Mr Davis rejected an argument that the Home Office would have adopted the policy already, if it was that “simple” – claiming it is “overly kindly” to asylum seekers.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick has more:

Send back all asylum seekers who are ‘victims’ of modern slavery, Tory MPs tell PM

Caroline Lucas accuses PM of failing to show ‘climate leadership

Monday 28 November 2022 11:15 , Emily Atkinson

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has leant her voice to growing calls to end the ban on new onshore wind farms to secure the UK’s energy independence as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has squeezed supplies.

She tweeted: “Yet another screeching u-turn from a PM who has failed time after time to show the climate leadership our country needs and is having to be dragged in the right direction.

“Renewables like onshore wind are 9 times cheaper than gas - about time he realised it.”

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Watch: Grant Shapps hints at U-turn over onshore wind ban

Monday 28 November 2022 11:35 , Emily Atkinson

Steve Barclay faces questions over diphtheria at Manston

Monday 28 November 2022 12:01 , Emily Atkinson

During a visit to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, health secretary Steve Barclay was questioned by reporters about cases of diphtheria at the Manston asylum processing centre.

He said: “We vaccinated a range of people at Manston before they were moved, so that was part of the targeted action that UKHSA put in place.

“Clearly within the population as a whole it’s very low risk because there’s very high uptake of vaccinations within the local population, but we’re monitoring it closely and that’s why so many people were vaccinated - 500 were vaccinated before they left Manston.”

Asked about the risk to the general public, he added: “The risk is very low, partly because there is very high uptake of vaccination within the British public in the first place.

“But also we had a targeted action of vaccinations at Manston and so 500 people were vaccinated before they actually left Manston, and it’s something that UKHSA are monitoring extremely closely.

“And that’s why they took the targeted action that they did.”

What does the exodus of Tory MPs mean for Rishi Sunak?

Monday 28 November 2022 12:24 , Emily Atkinson

Dozens of backbenchers are set to quit before the next election. Adam Forrest examines how it may shape the future of the party.

What does the exodus of Tory MPs mean for Rishi Sunak?

Blair says Qatar protests risk going ‘over the top'

Monday 28 November 2022 12:55 , Emily Atkinson

Tony Blair has warned that protests over the Qatari human rights record taking place over the course of the World Cup risk going “over the top.”

The former British prime minister told The News Agents podcast: “It’s not sensible of us to disrespect Qatar. This is their biggest event they’ve held.

“It’s a huge event for the country. They are allies of us, they invest huge amounts of money in this country.

“One of the things I can see now is a kind of social revolution going on across the Middle East and I think it will in the end change the role of women and things like gay rights.

“Make your point, but then having made your point you recognise for the country it’s a very important event.

“There is a process of change. Is it happening quick enough? No - you always want it to happen quicker, but there is this process of change happening across the Middle East,” he said.

 (PA Archive)
(PA Archive)

Pat McFadden: Are you and your family better off under the Tories?

Monday 28 November 2022 13:25 , Emily Atkinson

This government is stuck in a doom loop of low growth, high taxes and neglected public services – with no ability or desire to find a way out, writes Pat McFadden

Are you and your family better off under the Tories? | Pat McFadden

Health chiefs acted to stop diphtheria outbreak at asylum centre, minister insists

Monday 28 November 2022 13:42 , Emily Atkinson

More than 500 people at the Manston asylum centre were vaccinated against diphtheria, the health secretary says, after controversy over their removal to hotels.

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, is under fresh pressure after a report that more than 70 people suspected to have the highly-contagious disease were relocated across the country.

But Steve Barclay denied the government has been negligent – as he insisted there is only a “very low” risk to the general public, because most people also have the protection of a childhood jab.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports:

Health chiefs acted to stop diphtheria outbreak at asylum centre, minister insists

Rishi Sunak denounces Chinese arrest of BBC journalist as ‘shocking and unacceptable’ -

Monday 28 November 2022 14:01 , Emily Atkinson

Rishi Sunak has denounced the arrest of a BBC journalist covering protests in China as “shocking and unacceptable”.

Ed Lawrence was detained at a demonstration in Shanghai over Covid restrictions on Sunday and held for several hours before being released.

Footage shared on social media showed several police officers grabbing Mr Lawrence and pinning him to the ground. The BBC said he was beaten and kicked by police officers, and then taken away in handcuffs.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more:

Ukraine: Putin’s troops ‘continue to bombard reclaimed Kherson’

No 10 refuses to ‘predict future’ of onshore wind

Monday 28 November 2022 14:20 , Emily Atkinson

No 10 has indicated it would not predict “what might happen in the future” on onshore wind.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “You’ll know there are quite detailed rules around onshore wind and what is allowed - it requires developers to consult with communities in advance (of making) a planning application.

“So I’m not going to predict what might happen in the future.”

He said the government considers amendments to Bills “as they’re put forward”.

“The prime minister has talked at great length about his views on where the focus should be on renewables, where he is talking about building more wind turbines offshore in order to boost energy security and also the importance of ensuring communities support any action the government takes on renewables,” he said.

“So we will continue to have discussions as we would do normally.”

He said he did not believe the Commons leader had come forward with a timetable for the Bill, but “they will do so, I’m sure, in the normal way”.

Rishi Sunak can’t afford to let policy U-turns and Tory rebellions stack up

Monday 28 November 2022 14:40 , Emily Atkinson

U-turns were a staple of both the Boris Johnson and Liz Truss premierships, writes Chris Stevenson. It does not project an image of control.

Analysis: Sunak can’t afford to let policy U-turns and Tory rebellions stack up

Monday 28 November 2022 15:00 , Emily Atkinson

Downing Street has suggested Grant Shapps was pointing to existing rules when he spoke about local consent needed for onshore wind developments.

Asked if the business secretary was signalling an imminent U-turn, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “You’ve got our position - I’m sure he’s pointing to the rules that are already in place: to allow for consultation.”

Watch: Lisa Nandy says 'Matt Hancock came across a complete plonker' on I'm A Celebrity

Monday 28 November 2022 15:15 , Emily Atkinson

Government working with local councils over migrants with possible diphtheria, says No 10

Monday 28 November 2022 15:40 , Emily Atkinson

Downing Street has said the government is working with councils where migrants from processing centres with possible diphtheria have been put up in hotels.

Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman told reporters: “We take the safety and welfare of people accommodated at these sites very seriously.

“We’re working closely with the UK Health Security Agency and other health professionals and indeed councils to make sure all medical guidance and the robust protocols are followed and that we have contingency plans.

“You’ll know that those who are accommodated in these sites are offered the vaccinations. So we offer them to people at Manston, they have 24/7 health facilities and trained medical staff on hand.

“I think it’s important to emphasise to the public the low risk, particularly given vaccination rates for diphtheria are high amongst the UK population.”

Asked if councils taking in migrants from Manston have been warned about the risks of the highly contagious disease, the spokesman confirmed the government is “working with local councils”, including those where migrants are being housed.

The official did not know the latest number of migrants at the Kent processing facility, saying only it is “significantly below capacity”.

Akshata Murty meets Olena Zelenska outside No 10

Monday 28 November 2022 15:53 , Emily Atkinson

Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty has met Olena Zelenska, the First Lady of Ukraine, outside No 10 Downing Street.

Ms Zelenska briefly waved and smiled to the assemblage cameras on Downing Street as she arrived on an overcast and rainy Monday afternoon in Westminster.

Ms Murty welcomed Ms Zelenska on the pavement outside No 10 amid a heavy security presence as the pair exchanged a hug before walking inside the building.

The First Lady of Ukraine is in London to participate in an international conference on preventing sexual violence during conflicts.

Akshata Murty and Olena Zelenska meet on Downing Street

Monday 28 November 2022 16:15 , Emily Atkinson

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Shapps hints at onshore wind ban U-turn as Tory rebellion grows

Monday 28 November 2022 16:15 , Eleanor Sly

A Cabinet minister has hinted that Rishi Sunak could back down amid a growing Tory rebellion trying to force him to drop a ban on new onshore wind farms.

However, Downing Street appeared to push back on suggestions of a U-turn, stressing there is no “imminent change” to the Prime Minister’s opposition to relaxing planning rules around onshore wind.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps denied the challenge constitutes a “row” or that there is a “massive gulf” between the rebels and the government.

Read more here:

Shapps hints at onshore wind ban U-turn as Tory rebellion grows

More asylum seekers hospitalised with diphtheria as infections rise by 50% after Manston centre death

Monday 28 November 2022 16:40 , Eleanor Sly

Two asylum seekers have been hospitalised with diphtheria amid a 50 per cent rise in cases of the infectious disease in the past month, new data has revealed.

It comes after the Home Office confirmed that a man who died after staying at the Manston processing centre did have diphtheria.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection that is very rare in the UK - due to high levels of vaccination in the general population.

Holly Bancroft reports:

More asylum seekers hospitalised with diphtheria as infections rise by 50%

Government considers blocking asylum routes for people from ‘safe countries’

Monday 28 November 2022 17:10 , Eleanor Sly

The government wants to tackle “abuses” of the asylum system, including possibly preventing people coming from “safe countries” to claim asylum, No 10 has said.

The PM’s official spokesman refused to comment specifically on a proposal by 50 Tory MPs to change modern slavery laws to return those travelling from countries deemed safe such as Albania more quickly.

“On this issue of people, whether it comes to modern slavery or indeed on people coming from safe countries to claim asylum, it is something we want to look at, but I’m not citing any specific response to this proposal,” the official said.

“We recognise that there are a number of countries which are deemed safe and people should not be travelling illegally from safe countries to make their way here.”

He also said: “When people are repeatedly lodging illegitimate claims, when they’re manipulating the system, it is right that we tackle these abuses and as they detract from our ability to provide refuge to those in genuine need.”

A truly dismal record on apprenticeships and training

Monday 28 November 2022 17:40 , Eleanor Sly

Apprenticeships matter. Or at least they ought to. They certainly matter to the government.

There are few positives for it to point to amid its self-generated chaos, the wreckage it has left of the economy, the launch of what amounts to Austerity 2.0. But apprenticeships, skills, and training? They are things ministers and Tory MPs cling to like the survivors of a maritime disaster clutching at driftwood.

However, a report by education think tank EDSK shows they really shouldn’t consider them as any kind of lifesaver. Not when nearly half (47 per cent) of all apprentices are now dropping out before completing their courses. Not when a staggering 70 per cent of those that do report concerns about the quality of the “training” they are supposed to have received.

Writes James Moore :

A truly dismal record on apprenticeships and training

Yvette Cooper lambasts home secretary over Commons absence during diphtheria statement

Monday 28 November 2022 17:49 , Andy Gregory

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has criticised her opposite number Suella Braverman for her absence in the Commons as immigration minister Robert Jenrick revealed that a total of 50 asylum-seekers have been diagnosed with diphtheria this year – with a 50 per cent rise in the past month.

“You have to ask – what is she for?” Ms Cooper told MPs following Mr Jenrick’s statement, and questioned “why on Earth” screening and vaccination processes were not put in place weeks ago.

“It took until 11 November after thousands of people had been held there for weeks for screening and vaccinations on diphtheria to be recommended for everyone passing through Manston.”

She added: “The health secretary has said that 500 people have now been screened and vaccinated, what about the other several thousand people who have been in Manston? Wherever they now are in the country, have they been screened and vaccinated for diphtheria as well?

“If not, why on earth not? Because that was the public health recommendation nearly three weeks ago and that was already late.”

Senior Tory accuses Home Office of ‘laissez-faire approach to asylum-seeker dispersal'

Monday 28 November 2022 18:03 , Andy Gregory

Tory former minister David Davis has accused the Home Office of having a “laissez-faire approach to asylum-seeker dispersal”.

“Earlier this year, I informed the Home Office that some 30 Albanian asylum seekers had absconded from Thwaite Hall facility in my constituency,” he told MPs. “The then-minister for immigration ... informed me in my reply that asylum seekers, and I quote, ‘are not prevented from leaving or legally required to stay within its confines’. He might as well as said ‘not my problem, guv’.”

Mr Davis referenced reports of diphtheria cases at the Manston processing centre and said: “How can the minister square this laissez-faire approach to asylum seeker dispersal with any serious concern for public health?”

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said the approach he had set out “goes beyond the advice that Dame Jenny [Harries] and her colleagues at the UKHSA provided to us because I want to ensure that we are doing absolutely everything we can to take this issue seriously”.

Government re-examining role of civil service in Scotland after Supreme Court ruling, minister says

Monday 28 November 2022 18:23 , Andy Gregory

The Cabinet Office is re-examining the role of the civil service in Scotland following the Supreme Court’s ruling that Holyrood does not have the power to legislate for a second Scottish independence referendum without Westminster’s consent, a government minister has said.

Rishi Sunak’s Scottish secretary Alister Jack told MPs on Westminster’s Scottish affairs committee today that the court’s decision had confirmed the government’s “long-standing view” that the constitution was reserved to Westminster.

Asked about the civil service, Mr Jack said the top civil servants in each government stayed in close contact about the parameters they operated under.

He said: “Those people: the Cabinet Office, the civil service led by the cabinet secretary, are working again on what this judgment means for the future role of the civil service in Scotland.”

Rishi Sunak hints at U-turn over onshore windfarm ban

Monday 28 November 2022 19:04 , Eleanor Sly

Rishi Sunak is believed to be close to a compromise to allow a new generation of onshore wind farms, as he battles to stave off rebellion by Tory MPs including Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

Downing Street fuelled expectations of a U-turn by saying the PM wants to “engage” with 30 Conservatives backing proposed changes to the law to lift the effective ban on turbines on land.

And business secretary Grant Shapps, who is understood to have argued the case for compromise in cabinet, made clear he expects a shift in policy by declaring that “there will be more onshore power in the future”.

Andrew Woodcock and Saphora Smith report:

Rishi Sunak hints at U-turn over onshore windfarm ban

Government accused of ‘cruelty and malice’ by Independent MP

Monday 28 November 2022 19:48 , Eleanor Sly

Claudia Webbe, the MP for Leicester East, and former Labour MP, said: “The reality is we are facing the longest recession ever, coupled with skyrocketing costs of living.

“That crisis is driven by corporate greed, and government mismanagement, where the biggest burdens are being placed on the shoulders of those least able to carry them.

“And they are doing so in the form of rampant inflation, soaring interest rates and public spending cuts. I don’t think cruelty and malice are too strong a set of words for what is being done.

“What else should we call it when this government has hunted for ways in which workers and communities should pay for the so-called cost-of-living crisis instead of getting billionaires and millionaires who have flourished and profiting during the crisis, to pay up?

“The mere existence and normalisation of billionaires in society and high office shows a broken political and economic system that can never work for everyone in society.”

Could Nigel Farage come back to haunt British politics once again?

Monday 28 November 2022 20:15 , Eleanor Sly

Nigel Farage, former leader of Ukip, former leader of the Brexit Party and presently playing an angry pub bore on GB News, is apparently seeking to stir British politics up again.

Reports vary, but it seems that there has been contact with a group of disenchanted Conservative MPs in red-wall seats potentially for help and spiritual guidance, rather in the way The Beatles did with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi back in the psychedelic Sixties.

All sorts of options were explored. None of them was promising for the Sunak administration’s chances of getting re-elected.

Writes Sean O’Grady:

Analysis: Could Nigel Farage come back to haunt British politics once again?

Labour criticised for ditching commitment to start Black wing of party

Monday 28 November 2022 20:58 , Eleanor Sly

Labour has been criticised for “abandoning” a commitment to start a Black, Asian and minority ethnic wing of the party in its new plan to promote diversity.

On Tuesday, the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) will meet to discuss proposals to revive “BAME Labour”, a membership fee-charging body affiliated to the party, that its own internal report previously warned did not support the representation of minority ethnic members in decision-making.

But members are warning that this falls short of the 2018 pledge to implement a BAME National committee which would be embedded within the party itself and able to work with the NEC to drive forward inclusion and representation. Planned committees for LGBT+ and disabled groups have also been shelved.

Read more here:

Labour criticised for ditching commitment to start Black wing of party

Monday 28 November 2022 21:00 , Eleanor Sly

We’re closing the politics blog for the evening, but will be back with all the latest from Westminster tomorrow morning.