Former Conservative Chancellor George Osborne has backed Labour’s plans to give more powers to Britain’s economic watchdog.
Labour’s plans to create legislation guaranteeing that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) would analyse every big tax and spend decision were announced today, one year after Liz Truss’ mini-budget.
The former prime minister and then-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng had refused to publish OBR forecasts alongside their tax-cutting plans, which Mr Osborne described as a “fiasco”.
The former chancellor wrote on Twitter: “We created the OBR 13 years ago so Chancellors couldn’t any longer fiddle the numbers. A year ago we saw the fiasco when one tried to bypass it.
“These OBR reforms from (Rachel) Reeves are sensible, pragmatic improvements. If the Tories are smart they’ll adopt them.”
You can follow the latest updates below.
04:00 PM BST
That's all for today
Thank you for joining me for today’s politics live blog.
I will be back on Monday morning.
03:55 PM BST
Rishi Sunak's popularity falls to its lowest since becoming Prime Minister
Rishi Sunak has seen his net favorability fall to its lowest score to date following his recent net zero announcements, according to a YouGov survey.
The Prime Minister’s popularity rating has fallen to -45, with 68 per cent of the public taking an unfavourable view of the current leader.
His reputation among Conservative voters remains effectively unchanged, according to YouGov, and stays divided.
03:36 PM BST
Migrants must get at least three-star hotels, says Home Office contract
The Home Office is forcing some contractors to book hotels of “at least a minimum of three stars” to house small-boat migrants as costs soared to £8 million a day, Lizzie Dearden reports.
Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, said she was “very concerned about hotels” and called their use “unacceptable”, telling Parliament this week: “It is totally unacceptable that too many towns and cities around the country now house the 45,000 asylum seekers who are in hotels… it is not right that the British taxpayer is forking out the cost.”
The most recent contract issued by Mrs Braverman’s department, seen by The Telegraph, lists “mandatory requirements” for all hotels booked, stating: “The location of the accommodation will be carried out at locations close to amenities and transport networks. Contracted venues should be at least a minimum of three stars.”
03:23 PM BST
Sir Ed Davey: I have 'one hundred per cent' ruled out pre-election pact with Labour
Sir Ed Davey has said that he has “100 per cent” ruled out an electoral pact with Labour, as the Liberal Democrats head to what is likely to be their last party conference before the general election.
Sir Ed told 5 News that he was not having conversations with Sir Keir Starmer, but added: “I have to say I am sick and tired of the Tories”.
He told the channel: “Even in coalition with them I fought the Tories every single day.”
He said that he was ruling out a pre-election deal with Labour, even in seats like Mid Bedfordshire, where the two parties are battling it out to unseat the Tories upcoming by-election.
“I’ve said in every single by-election since I’ve been leader there will be no pacts, there will be no deals. And I don’t think voters want parties to stitch thing up,” he said.
03:08 PM BST
Work to turn Dambusters air base into asylum camp halted over planning breach
The Home Office has been forced to halt all work to convert an historic RAF base into an asylum camp after the local council accused it of breaching planning permission, Charles Hymas writes.
West Lindsey district council issued an enforcement and a stop notice on Friday preventing the alterations at RAF Scampton, the former home of the Second World War Dambusters’ squadron in Lincolnshire, which is being turned into a camp for up to 2,000 Channel migrants.
The council said the Home Office had carried out work that was in breach of planning rules including a “change of use” of the site for longer than the 12 months allowed under regulations.
02:47 PM BST
Pictured: Penny Mordaunt visits specialist defence facility that supplies Ukraine in Belfast
02:34 PM BST
Majority of the public do not trust the Conservatives on the environment, poll finds
The majority of people do not trust the Conservatives to protect the environment in the wake of the Prime Minister’s announced changes to net zero policies, a new poll has found.
Although the public is divided on whether Rishi Sunak was right to roll back some net zero targets, two thirds of people told Ipsos that they did not trust the Tories to make the right decisions on the environment.
Around three-quarters of people said they knew at least something about Mr Sunak’s changes, with 47 per cent thinking that Mr Sunak had made the right decision, while 46 per cent thought he had been wrong.
Gideon Skinner, head of UK politics at Ipsos, said: “Rishi Sunak is facing a balancing act with his recent announcement on delaying or cancelling some Net Zero policies, needing to show the public he is still taking climate change seriously while also addressing concerns about the cost of living.
He added: “More work is needed both to deliver improvements on the economy and to engage with public concerns that a long-term approach on climate change really is being taken, in order to change people’s minds.”
02:17 PM BST
Jeremy Hunt visits Warner Bros Studios as company announces UK expansion in Leavesden
02:03 PM BST
Deputy PM to warn UN that AI is developing too quickly for regulation to keep up
Artificial intelligence is developing too quickly for regulation to keep up, Oliver Dowden is to tell the UN general assembly in New York.
The Deputy Prime Minister is to urge nations on Friday to take AI seriously and to develop “the necessary guardrails, regulation and governance” required alongside the technology.
His comments will come ahead of the AI safety summit, due to take place in the UK in November.
Mr Dowden will say:
“The starting gun has been fired on a globally competitive race in which individual companies as well as countries will strive to push the boundaries as far and fast as possible.
“In the past, leaders have responded to scientific and technological developments with retrospective regulation. But in this instance the necessary guardrails, regulation and governance must be developed in a parallel process with the technological progress.
“Yet, at the moment, global regulation is falling behind current advances.”
01:37 PM BST
Path to net zero 'can be one that actually saves families money', insists Streeting
The Labour Party believes that the path to net zero “can be one that actually saves families money, not costs us more,” Wes Streeting has said.
When asked on GB News about Rishi Sunak’s latest net zero policy changes, the shadow health secretary said that the Prime Minister had been “really short-sighted”.
He said: “Look at the industry voices that have come out in recent days. What the Prime Minister has done is really short-sighted, it has actually created more instability and uncertainty for businesses who are looking to invest in Britain.
“If we get our energy policy right, our economic policy right, our industrial policy right and bring them all together, we can deliver lower bills..”
He added: “We are in this bizarre situation where we are subsidising the taxpayers of other countries who have big stakes in our energy industry. Why not have Great British Energy? Owning our own energy, reinvesting the profits for the sake of our own people.
“So for Labour, we think that the path to net zero and the path to our own energy security can be one that actually saves families money, not costs us more.”
01:26 PM BST
The Labour Party has 'got the message' on Brexit, Wes Streeting says
Labour has “got the message” on Brexit, Wes Streeting has said, as he defends the party’s approach to dealing with the EU.
The shadow health secretary told GB News that he knew that it wouldn’t be in the national interest to “relive those battles”, as he sought to reassure voters about Labour’s attitude towards Brussels.
Mr Streeting said: “Let me say this as someone who campaigned for remain and passionately so - we’ve got the message.
“We lost the referendum, we lost two general elections subsequently.
“I’m not going to pretend I was happy about it. But I also know that it wouldn’t be in this country’s interest to relive those battles and to keep on looking back when we should be looking forward to the future.
He added: “People are looking for Britain to say ‘what do you stand for? Where do you fit in the global race now?’ I think that’s not been clear for too long now.”
12:43 PM BST
Rishi Sunak plans major reform of A-levels
Rishi Sunak’s proposals to reform A-levels (see 12.27pm) are understood to be part of the Prime Minister’s plans to change the UK, following on from his decision earlier this week to water down various net zero pledges, writes Daniel Martin.
Mr Sunak has already said that all children should study some form of maths up to the age of 18. It is not possible to meet that commitment under the existing A-level system.
A Whitehall source told The Telegraph that the plan was being considered.
The Prime Minister floated the idea during his unsuccessful leadership campaign against Liz Truss last year. But a senior Conservative source told the Times he was now determined to press ahead as part of his pledge to address the “bigger, longer-term questions” facing the country.
“He came back from the summer with a series of things he wanted to move on,” a source said. “A-level reform is a critical part of it.”
12:27 PM BST
Starmer urges Sunak not to ‘introduce uncertainty’ with education overhaul plans
Rishi Sunak is “introducing uncertainty” with suggestions that he plans to overhaul A-levels and replace them with a British baccalaureate, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
The proposed reforms, first reported by the Times, would see English and maths becoming compulsory until the age of 18, alongside a requirement that children study a wider range of subjects in post-16 education.
In response to reports, the Labour leader told journalists: “This is speculation and, yet again, we’ve got the Prime Minister introducing uncertainty about what’s going to happen.
“This is a characteristic of this Government: uncertainty and no stability.”
He added: “And I think many parents hearing this will be saying, look at the moment we don’t have enough maths teachers in our secondary schools. At the moment many schools are closed or not functioning properly because the roofs might fall in.
“So I think they’d say to the Prime Minister, concentrate on the day job, not on introducing uncertainty.”
12:13 PM BST
Starmer: Legislation to strengthen economic watchdog powers is 'necessary' after Truss mini-budget
Sir Keir Starmer said it is “necessary” to create legislation that forces ministers to consult the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) ahead of major tax and spending changes.
The Labour leader told journalists at the London Stock Exchange: “It is necessary because a year ago the OBR offered to do an assessment of Liz Truss’s mini-budget and she turned it down.
“We can’t let that happen again.”
Sir Keir said in the case of a “very significant event” accommodations could be made so that changes could be introduced without forecasts.
The measure would bring the “stability that our economy desperately needs”, he added.
11:53 AM BST
Pictured: Sir Keir Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves outside the London Stock Exchange
11:41 AM BST
Truss hits back Labour's financial watchdog plans as giving ‘even more powers for quangos’
Labour’s plans to give new powers to the OBR would mean “bigger government and even more powers for quangos,” Liz Truss has said.
Labour’s policy pledge comes on the eve of the anniversary of the former prime minister’s mini-budget, for which Ms Truss refused to publish an OBR forecast.
Ms Truss said in response to the plans: “The 25-year economic consensus has led to state spending being higher than it’s been for around 50 years, taxes at their highest since World War Two and a debt of over £2.5 trillion. This has caused low economic growth.
“It beggars belief that Labour think Britain’s problems will be solved by bigger government and even more powers for quangos.”
11:34 AM BST
Sunak's dog loses the battle for No10 against an old veteran of Westminster turf wars
Larry the cat is often seen strutting around Downing Street, keen to show who is boss - but many have wondered how he behaves within, writes Ewan Somerville.
Now, Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty, 43, has revealed “heated exchanges” have taken place between him and their family’s fox red Labrador retriever, Nova - and Larry has won the argument.
Offering a rare glimpse into life in No 10, she told the Sky Kids FYI show: “Nova has mixed emotions about (living here) because she sometimes doesn’t get on with Larry the cat.
11:08 AM BST
Reeves: New legislation will prevent OBR from being ‘gagged’
A Labour government would ensure that the economic watchdog is not “gagged” by ministers who seek to avoid an official forecast on major tax and spending changes, Rachel Reeves has said.
The party pledged today to give more powers to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) should they win the next general election, which would mean that a government would be legally bound to consult the watchdog before introducing major changes.
The announcement comes on the eve of the anniversary of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget, when they refused to publish the OBR’s independent forecast alongside the plans.
The shadow chancellor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m saying that we won’t allow that to happen again because the OBR will not be gagged.
“We will bring forward this charter in legislation, and MPs will vote on it and then we will ensure that, in the future, when budgets happen there will always be a forecast.”
10:44 AM BST
Hunt refuses to commit to the triple lock beyond the next election
Jeremy Hunt has again refused to commit to the triple lock beyond the next election, however insisted that “it’s a policy we believe in”.
Speaking on LBC, the Chancellor refused to say whether or not the policy would be in the Conservative manifesto.
However, he said: “We will continue to have the back of pensioners because we recognise that unlike everyone else, when times are tough, they don’t have the option to work more because they’ve retired and we need to recognise the contribution they’ve made over their working lives.”
It comes after the Liberal Democrats became the first party to commit to maintaining the triple lock after the next election.
10:19 AM BST
Labour pledges new powers to UK's economic watchdog if they win next election
Labour has pledged to give more powers to Britain’s fiscal watchdog if they win the next general election.
The announcement comes one year after Liz Truss’ mini-budget, which was delivered without independent analysis from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).
Sir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves have announced planned legislation that would guarantee that any future significant tax and spending changes by government would be subject to an OBR forecast.
Ms Reeves said: “As Chancellor, my mission will be to bring stability back to our economy because that is the only way we can bring growth back. Never again can a Prime Minister or Chancellor be allowed to repeat the disastrous mistakes of last year’s mini-budget.
“Labour will introduce a new fiscal lock to strengthen the UK’s financial stability to prevent the turmoil we witnessed this time last year. Labour will ensure stability returns to our economy and on that rock of stability working people will be better off.”
10:04 AM BST
Rishi Sunak plans major reform of A-levels
Rishi Sunak is considering a major reform of A-levels to ensure children study more subjects in sixth form.
The Prime Minister wants a new “British Baccalaureate” as part of a move towards a more continental-style system of education.
The proposed reforms would see English and maths becoming compulsory until the age of 18, alongside a requirement that children study a wider range of subjects in post-16 education.
09:47 AM BST
Labour: Closer cooperation with Brussels is 'in our national interest'
A Labour frontbencher has suggested that closer cooperation with Brussels would improve national security and increase trade.
James Murray, the shadow financial secretary, told GB news that some Conservative reaction to Sir Keir Stamer’s remarks in Canada last weekend “does feel to me like an attempt to distract from the fact that they have no plan to make Brexit work.”
He added: “I think this is about doing what is in our national interest – what’s in our national economic interest, as well as our other national interests when it comes to security, supply chains, cross-border policing and so on.”
“We know that businesses are suffering from greater red tape. We know this is impacting on growth. We know it’s deepening the cost-of-living crisis.
“That’s why we want to see an improved trading relationship with the EU and to help grow the economy and make people across Britain better off.”
09:34 AM BST
Net zero can’t ‘crucify’ household budgets, insists Jeremy Hunt
The cost of net zero policies should not “crucify” households, Jeremy Hunt has said.
Asked about his “gas guzzler” car by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, the Chancellor replied: “I’ve had it since 2014. So I think it’s got another few years in it, but when it comes to the end of its natural life. But I’ve got three kids and a granny, who I carry around in the car.
“So you know at the moment, it’s quite difficult to find electric cars that are competitive when you’re taking lots of people. And that’s really what this announcement is saying. Let’s give everyone time to do this, in a way that it doesn’t crucify family finances.
“And I think if we do that we will maintain the strong public support that we’ve had to date for our net zero ambition.”
09:09 AM BST
Jeremy Hunt: Tax cuts are virtually impossible
Jeremy Hunt has said that tax cuts ahead of November’s Autumn Statement are “virtually impossible” and has warned that he faces difficult decisions.
The Chancellor said there was no “extra headroom” to cut taxes, because of the need to prioritise the pledge to halve inflation this year to a level of around 5.3 per cent.
The Bank of England decided not to put up interest rates yesterday, ending a run of 14 successive increases and raising the prospect that they may have peaked.
Mr Hunt told LBC’s Tonight with Andrew Marr that high debt interest payments left him little room for giveaways.
08:53 AM BST
Rural minister: Unlike Millionaire host Clarkson, farmers can't just phone a friend
Jeremy Clarkson has it much easier than the average farmer, the food and rural affairs minister suggested during his broadcast round this morning.
When the success of the presenter’s hit series Clarkson’s Farm was raised, Mark Spencer told GB News: “I think unless you’ve been a farmer, you don’t actually know how difficult it is.
“You mention Jeremy Clarkson, Jeremy is assisted by the fact that he’s had a huge television company behind him funding some of those exciting things he puts on the screen.
“When you’re out there day and night, and it is your livelihood at risk and losing an animal costs you a huge amount of your future income, I think then you understand the pressure that you are actually under.”
08:50 AM BST
Labour frontbencher says party has its 'red lines' on Brexit
Labour has been clear about its “red lines” on Brexit, the shadow financial secretary said.
James Murray, an opposition frontbencher, told Sky News that Sir Keir Starmer “has been clear throughout that we have red lines when it comes to our relationship with the EU post-Brexit”.
Mr Murray added: “We don’t want to be in the single market. We don’t want to be in a customs union. We don’t want to bring back freedom of movement. But we do want a better trading relationship, we want a better trade and investment relationship between the UK and the EU and I think what’s really clear is that the Tories have no plan to make Brexit work.”
It came as the Conservative Party launched an attack ad featuring Sir Keir’s various positions on Brexit since 2016, including during his time as shadow Brexit secretary in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, when the party campaigned for a second referendum on the EU.
Sir Keir and Labour would take us back to square one on Brexit - the latest example of his short-term positions on the EU pic.twitter.com/SK8n4olSK8
— Conservatives (@Conservatives) September 21, 2023
08:40 AM BST
Energy Secretary visits Paris with Macron and the King
Claire Coutinho, the Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary, has been in Paris for a climate summit also attended by the King and Emmanuel Macron, the French president.
Ms Coutinho was at the Natural History Museum for the SV Climate and Nature Finance Mobilisation Forum.
08:32 AM BST
Labour: We're certainly not anti-motorist
Labour is not an “anti-motorist” party, Rachel Reeves said at the end of a week which has been politically dominated by Rishi Sunak’s reset of net zero policy.
Mr Sunak confirmed on Wednesday his government will delay a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035, while Labour has said it would reinstate the 2030 ban.
The party’s leadership admitted it lost a by-election in Uxbridge and South Ruislip in July that it was widely expected to win because of Sadiq Khan, its Mayor of London, expanding an ultra-low emissions zone which means motorists whose vehicles do not meet green requirements are charged £12.50 a day.
Ms Reeves told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The price of electric vehicles is coming down every month, every year and that’s a good thing. No one’s talking about banning petrol and diesel cars, the second hand market will still be really vibrant in years to come.
“We’re certainly not anti-motorist. The price of electric vehicles is coming down all the time. But you know over the last 24, 48 hours I’ve had so many messages from business leaders saying all we want is a bit of consistency and frankly some ambition from this Government.
“Other countries in the world are leading the way. I don’t want the investment and the jobs to be going to the European Union and Asia, I want them here, and that means a government that sticks to its plans.”
08:27 AM BST
They long to be close to EU
Labour has made peace with Brexit but wants to have a “better relationship” with the continent, the shadow chancellor has said.
Rachel Reeves said opposition frontbenchers “don’t want to rejoin the EU in name or any other way” amid a political row sparked by comments by Sir Keir Starmer, her party’s leader, about not diverging from Brussels edicts on food standards, employment rights and the environment.
“We accept the result of the referendum, that was seven years ago, more than seven years ago now, times have moved on,” Ms Reeves told BBC Radio 4’s Today progrmame.
“But we do want to have a better relationship with our nearest neighbours and trading partners.”
08:23 AM BST
Dominic Penna here, The Telegraph’s Political Reporter, guiding you through another day in Westminster as party conference season begins.
A “better deal” with the EU would help to ease the cost of living crisis, Rachel Reeves has suggested after Labour insisted it will not diverge from Brussels rules if it wins power.
It emerged yesterday that Sir Keir Starmer, the opposition leader, told a Left-wing audience in Canada that he would improve relations with the bloc by sticking to its standards on food and the environment.
Ms Reeves, the shadow chancellor, insisted Labour “accept the result of the referendum” but added the party would strike a “better” deal if elected that “will be good for UK consumers, who’ve seen prices rise and rise and rise, and it will be good for businesses as it will be easier to trade”.