Politics latest news: Energy crisis could erupt into 'biggest political issue of decade', Tories warn - watch live

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A looming 'cost of living crisis' could erupt into the biggest political issue of the decade, senior Tories have warned.

The energy price crisis, broader inflationary pressures and a double-whammy of tax rises and benefit cuts threaten to create a challenging winter for Britons. A study by the Legatum Institute warned that ending the uplift to Universal Credit next month will push a further 800,000 people into poverty.

Damian Green told the BBC that the cost of living was "an argument we have forgotten about because we have now had a generation of low inflation", but noted "it can be the biggest political issue out there."

The Conservative MP for Ashford added: "The paradox is that many of us thought we would come out of the pandemic with big employment issues and a very sluggish economy.. [but] we are facing a big global inflation problem, which I suspect will become the biggest political issue for the coming decade."

Gavin Barwell, a Conservative peer who served as chief of staff under Theresa May, warned the rise in energy prices "definitely has the potential to become a crisis".

He added: "We’ve got the tax increases that they’ve just brought in, we’ve got the Universal Credit reduction that's about to come online, plus rising energy bills. I think there is a real political danger here of cost of living issues becoming a real difficulty for the Government.”

​​Follow the latest updates below.

03:35 PM

Business Secretary: I can only 'speculate about Russia's motives'

Tobias Elllwood, the chairman of the defence committee, asks whether Russia is "playing ball with its gas prices".

Kwasi Kwarteng says it is "not for me to comment on Russian energy policy or strategy", saying he can "speculate about their motives".

But his job is that whatever Russia does, the UK consumer is protected.

The Business Secretary then receives a telling-off from MPs and the Speaker for the fact he is giving a joint statement with Ofgem after his appearance in the Commons.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle can be heard muttering "what a day" under his breath.

03:23 PM

Liz Truss meets Henry Kissinger

Liz Truss, the new Foreign Secretary, has joined Boris Johnson in New York - and has met politician, diplomat, and geopolitical titan Henry Kissinger.

03:21 PM

U-turn ahead? Universal Credit is 'issue across Government', says minister

Zarah Sultana, the Labour MP for Coventry, says the Government should stop "relentlessly attacking the working class" and calls on the minister to reverse the Universal Credit cut and nationalise energy firms.

Kwasi Kwarteng replies by suggesting they are "talking points that the young lady has been given by the whips" - prompting several opposition MPs to loudly protest.

He adds: "I have said repeatedly with regards Universal Credit this is an issue across Government and there is no way in the House I can commit to anything on that. We are absolutely focused to protect people in fuel poverty."

03:13 PM

UK 'not at mercy of Russian despots', says minister

Kwasi Kwarteng has sought to downplay the suggestion that the energy crisis is being caused by Russia.

Bob Seely, the Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, had asked to what extent the UK was "collateral damage" as the Kremlin "weaponises gas supply... potentially as a a precursor to more violence in Ukraine".

He suggested it was a "hybrid war" and the Government should plan "long-term accordingly".

But the Business Secretary said there was a "common misconception" that the UK was reliant on Russia, but said he wanted to "minimise this notion that we are somehow at the mercy of Russian despots".

03:01 PM

Business Secretary refuses to confirm if warm homes rebate can be ported

Darren Jones, chairman of the Beis committee, says he will be calling ministers to answer questions "over the days and weeks". but asks if the warm homes rebate will be paid out to those who are forced to change suppliers.

Kwasi Kwarteng says he is "tempting me onto dangerous ground" because any change of that kind "has a fiscal implication" and therefore a matter for the Treasury as well.

The Business Secretary says he expects a fuller conversation when he appears before the Beis committee later this week.

02:59 PM

Andrea Leadsom: Encourage local energy generation to drive wind and solar uptake

Andrea Leadsom, the former business secretary, asks her successor about moving towards renewable energy more quickly, through more local energy generation and pricing to encourage uptake of wind and solar energy.

Kwasi Kwarteng thanks her for having "pushed a great deal of reform in this area", saying conversations are still taking place "all the time".

He welcomes further talks with his one-time boss.

02:57 PM

SNP MP attacks minister over 'cost of living crisis'

Stephen Flynn, SNP's MP for Aberdeen South, launches into an attack on "the barriers put in place by Brexit, 11 years of Tory austerity, a National Insurance tax hike, the plan to rob £20 a week from those claiming Universal Credit, food prices rising, shelves emptying and now this energy consumers facing eye-watering bills".

He says it is "a cost of living crisis" created by the Government and the "warm words" of the Business Secretary "don't quite cut it".

Mr Flynn notes it is "not just households being hammered" but businesses too, although notes there was nothing about specific support.

He asks what message he has for Boris Johnson who promised that energy bills would be reduced after Brexit.

Kwasi Kwarteng says it is "absolutely extraordinary" that he is trying to "refight the wars" of five years ago.

02:51 PM

Government must reverse 'unconscionable' Universal Credit cut over energy crisis, says Labour

Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, agrees that they should not be alarmist, but stresses that the issue is very grave.

He asks whether taxpayer support will be needed to deal with the problem, and what plans he has to support "energy-intensive businesses".

Mr Miliband backs the decision to keep the price cap in place, but notes the rise means "half a million more families will be plunged into fuel poverty".

He then turns to the "unconscionable" decision to plough ahead with the decision to end the Universal Credit uplift and urges him to reverse that now.

02:48 PM

Energy price surge underscores UK's reliance on fossil fuels, says minister

The surge in energy prices underscores the UK's over-reliance on fossil fuels, Kwasi Kwarteng has said.

"Our exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of our plan to build a strong homegrown renewable energy sector to strengthen our energy security into the future," he tells MPs.

Renewable energy has quadrupled since 2010 "but there is still, clearly, much more we can do in the future," he adds, saying the UK will back the "next generation of nuclear technology".

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, chastises the minister for having spoken for so long.

02:45 PM

Minister is 'exploring quite thoroughly' solutions to CO2 shortage

Kwasi Kwarteng confirms that the energy pay cap will remain, while the warm home discount and other support will remain to protect "millions" of low income households.

The Business Secretary then turns to the closure of the two fertiliser plants, which has "affected int he shot-term" production of CO2 used in food and drink.

He says he met the owner of the plants to "explore quite thoroughly" some options to ensure affected sectors "have appropriate contingency plans in place to ensure there is minimal disruption".

Meetings will continue this week on both issues, and he will make a joint statement with Ofgem "following health and illuminating discussions with them", Mr Kwarteng says.

02:42 PM

Government will not 'bail out failed energy companies', says minister

The Business Secretary has insisted it is "not unusual" for small energy firms to collapse, particularly when wholesale prices rise, saying it is a "feature of a highly competitive market">

It "should not be any cause for alarm", he adds, stressing that Ofgem typically appoints another server and there is "no disruption" to the consumer.

Setting out the Government's plan, Kwasi Kwarteng say the state won't "bail out failed companies".

He adds: "There will be no reward for failure, or mismanagement. The taxpayer should not be expected to prop up businesses which have poor business models and are not resilient to fluctuations in price."

The second aim is that consumers will be protected throughout, and thirdly, the rest of the industry will not "pay the price for the poor practices of a minority of companies", he adds.

02:38 PM

More energy companies may fail in coming weeks, says minister

The Business Secretary has insisted the energy crisis "is not a question of security of supply", stressing that the UK has a diverse range of partners that deliver gas into the country.

Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs that while he was "not complacent, we do not expect supply emergencies this winter".

The UK has an "excellent relationship with Norway", which delivers nearly 30 per cent of our total gas supply.

The remaining supply is sourced from various global partners.

"Obviously the global has situation has had an impact on some of our energy suppliers," he adds, telling MPs there may be "further companies exiting the market in the coming weeks".

02:34 PM

No return to three-day week over energy crisis, minister insists

The Business Secretary has said he will set out how the Government plans to manage the looming energy crisis.

Kwasi Kwarteng told MPs that he had met with representatives of Ofgem and energy companies over the weekend, "and this morning I held a further roundtable discussion"

Protecting consumers is "our number one, our primary focus and will shape or entire approach to this crisis".

He said there was no prospect of a shortage of gas, saying there will be "no three-day week or throwback to the 1970s".

He added there was "not question of the lights going out, or people being unable to heat their homes

02:28 PM

'We're talking pence here': Energy crisis won't cost taxpayer, says official

Taxpayer money is not "at risk" through big energy suppliers taking on the customers of collapsed smaller companies, but all bill-payers will see a rise, a senior official has said.

Sarah Mumby, the permanent secretary for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, told the Public Accounts Committee: "Ultimately, the supplier of last resort regime already contains provision for companies to be compensated for costs that they take on as part of that regime. The current process for how that extra cost is dealt with, just so you know, is that it's fed out across the market over time.

"And ultimately, very small amounts appear on people's bills down the line. We're talking pence here."

She added: "We're not currently intending to put any taxpayers' money at risk."

02:21 PM

Autumn likely to bring 'cost of living crunch', warns think tank boss

The cut in benefits and a surge in energy prices means this autumn could see a "cost of living crunch", the head of the Resolution Foundation think tank has warned.

Torsten Bell said "millions of households" face a 13 per cent increase in energy bills at the same time as the uplift to Universal Credit is withdrawn, at a cost of £1,000 a year, while general inflation is likely to hit four per cent this winter.

He added: "The energy cap is rising most for households on pre-payment meters (£153 vs £139 for others). Who has prepayment meters? Universal Credit claimants (4 in 10 households on UC vs only 1 in 4 for the rest of the population)."

02:10 PM

US to lift travel ban from UK and EU in November

The United States plans to relax travel restrictions on vaccinated passengers from the UK and European Union from November.

The new rules are part of a broader US policy for international travel.

It came after Boris Johnson was set to push Joe Biden to change Covid-19 travel rules and let Britons fly to America when they meet on Tuesday in the White House.

Read more here.

02:00 PM

Turkey farmers facing 'horrendous storm' ahead of Christmas

A turkey farmer has said he is facing "a perfect storm - it's a horrendous storm" in the run-up to Christmas.

Paul Kelly, owner of KellyBronze Turkeys, said ministers had been warned about supply chain issues since March of this year but the Government now "need to pull their finger out".

He told Sky News that CO2 was "an issue - but it's not the big issue", noting there were many other problems that were contributing to the crisis.

"We do not have the workers to run our farms and get things produced and packed, and if we do get them produced and packed there aren't the drivers to get them delivered," he added. "Going into Christmas... I think we will be OK, but the bigger guys they don't stand a chance.

"They have cut back half a million turkeys, so there was going to be a shortage anyway, but if we do not get the labour shortages situation sorted and the CO2 situation sorted out, you really will have to cancel Christmas - in terms of eating turkey."

01:48 PM

'Too early to say' if taxpayer money will be used to address energy crisis

Kwasi Kwarteng's business department said it was "too early to say" whether taxpayers' money will be needed to address the crisis in the energy sector.

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said: "Protecting consumers is our primary focus and will shape our entire approach to this issue.

"It is too early to say whether any financial support will be necessary, but we are monitoring this situation extremely closely.

"The Business Secretary is in close contact with the energy industry on the impact of high global gas prices, having met senior figures over the weekend, and hosted a roundtable with the energy industry and consumer groups this morning to speak further and to plan a way forward."

01:45 PM

Business Secretary pledges to keep energy price cap, saying 'consumers come first'

The Business Secretary has vowed to maintain the energy price cap amid a mounting crisis, saying "consumers come first".

Kwasi Kwarteng led a roundtable with UK energy companies and consumer groups this morning, following a series of crunch talks over the weekend, amid warnings that dozens of companies could go bust.

"I reiterated the need for us all to prioritise consumers," Mr Kwarteng said following the meeting. "My task is to ensure that any energy supplier failures cause the least amount of disruption for consumers. Consumers come first.

"We are looking at options to protect consumers, and meetings continue across government today and this week."

"In any scenario, we will ensure UK consumers have continuity of supply - through a supplier of last resort or a special administrator if needed," he added. "The energy price cap protects millions of consumers. It will remain in place."

A taxpayer-backed bailout fund is one of several options on the table, with the industry fearing a financial crisis-style collapse.

01:37 PM

Major economies 'lagging far behind' on climate change, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has told world leaders he is growing "increasingly frustrated" that their commitments to tackle the climate crisis are "nowhere near enough".

The Prime Minister told a roundtable he co-hosted at the United Nations General Assembly in New York that "everyone nods and we all agree that something must be done".

"Yet I confess I'm increasingly frustrated that the 'something' to which many of you have committed is nowhere near enough," he added.

"It is the biggest economies in the world that are causing the problem, while the smallest suffer the worst consequences. And while progress is being made all over the world, the gulf between what has been promised, what is actually being delivered, and what needs to happen... it remains vast.

"Too many major economies - some represented here today, some absent - are lagging too far behind."

01:23 PM

Cost of living crisis will become 'biggest political issue for the coming decade', warns Tory MP

The Government is facing a "big, global inflation problem", which is likely to become "the biggest political issue for the coming decade", Damian Green has warned.

The former deputy prime minister, who is among those campaigning to prevent the Universal Credit uplift being scrapped, told the BBC's World at One the coming winter would be "very, very hard" for around half a million people, including 200,00 children.

He added: "We are clearly coming into a huge problem for the cost of living for people. Those who are receiving Universal Credit, many of whom are in work and working as hard as they can to keep families out of poverty, are the one who will be most hit by the upcoming problems with inflation and energy prices."

The MP for Ashford noted that the cost of living was "an argument we have forgotten about because we have now had a generation of low inflation", but noted "it can be the biggest political issue out there."

He added: "The paradox is that many of us thought we would come out of the pandemic with a big employment issues and a very sluggish economy.. [but] we are facing a big global inflation problem, which I suspect will become the biggest political issue for the coming decade."

01:04 PM

CO2 shortage means farmers may be forced to 'slaughter their own animals'

The chairman of the National Pig Association (NPA) has warned that farmers will be forced to "slaughter their own animals" due to a lack of space and feed.

Normal processes are being heavily disrupted by a massive shortage of CO2 after two fertiliser plants, which between them produce 60 per cent of the country's commercial carbon dioxide, shut earlier this month.

Rob Mutimer told the PA news agency: "If the situation doesn't change, it's going to spiral completely out of control.

"And the only end game there is we as farmers are going to end up slaughtering our livestock - not for the food chain but to put them into rendering, to dispose of carcasses like what happened in foot and mouth.

"And that's a terrible situation to be in."

12:56 PM

Tory rebellion over Universal Credit cuts thwarted

Boris Johnson might be breathing a little easier in New York, as Iain Duncan Smith and Damian Green's bid to prevent the cut to Universal Credit has failed.

The pair had tabled an amendment to pensions legislation in a bid block the end of the temporary benefits boost, which will coincide with higher gas bills and the end of furlough.

However it has not been selected by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, meaning there will be no Tory rebellion - today.

12:52 PM

Have your say: How damaging could a 'cost of living crisis' be for Boris Johnson?

It's been many years since the country faced a real "cost of living crisis", but many commentators believe that is precisely what we are in for.

The energy crisis, food shortages and labour shortages are all pushing up prices, with warnings that Christmas could be cancelled (but this time, it's the turkey that will be missing, rather than your family).

That is combining with tax rises and the end of the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit - which could push more than 800,000 people into poverty, according to the Legatum Institute think tank.

Some of these issues are outside of the Government's control - but many are very much within their power to resolve. Either way, there are warnings it could lead to political danger for Boris Johnson and co. Have your say in the poll below.

12:41 PM

Jesse Norman quit the Treasury over Boris Johnson’s bid for more diversity

Jesse Norman has revealed he quit the Treasury after Boris Johnson told him he wanted diversity to improve.

The former financial secretary to the Treasury was removed from post last week in what was considered a surprise move during the Prime Minister’s reshuffle.

However, Mr Norman told Times Radio: “We had a conversation in which he (Boris Johnson) actually offered me the choice of staying on, but said that he was looking to improve the diversity and representation within the Government.”

He added: “I actually believe in what the Prime Minister is trying to do with improving representation and diversity, and I don’t want to be one of those, I don’t want to say 'Yes I’m going to stay in' to be one of those ministers who then has to be forklifted out later on.”

He added that he told Mr Johnson “no” and that he was “happy to step down”.

12:24 PM

Boris Johnson: 'Crazy' post-Brexit issues 'can't go on forever'

Boris Johnson is in New York for the UN General Assembly  - PA
Boris Johnson is in New York for the UN General Assembly - PA

Post-Brexit issues with Northern Ireland "can't go on forever", Boris Johnson has warned, as ministers consider the prospect of tearing up parts of an agreement with the EU.

Asked if he could trigger Article 16 in the days after meeting Joe Biden, the Prime Minister told journalists: "I hope everybody knows this isn't something that the UK Government is trying to stoke up for our own political purposes.

"On the contrary, we want to fix this, we want common sense. We want no barriers in the UK for trading in our country and it's crazy at the moment that we've got the protocol being enforced or being used in the way that it is.

"I don't believe it's sensible, 20 per cent of all checks in the whole of the perimeter of the EU are now done in Northern Ireland. So we do need to sort it out, we need to sort it out fast."

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, who came to Downing Street for a working dinner last week, had come to the UK last week to "see if he could mediate on the issue"," Mr Johnson added.

12:20 PM

Business Secretary: Government looking at 'options to protect consumers'

Kwasi Kwarteng has given us a glimpse of what to expect from his statement later today - and it looks like the short answer is that nothing has been decided.

The Business Secretary has vowed that "consumers come first" within any deal agreed - and signalled that by highlighting that the price cap will remain - but beyond that, there is little detail to his statement.

You can read it in full below.

12:16 PM

Government eyes taxpayer-funded loans amid crunch talks on energy crisis

Energy firms could be bailed out using taxpayer-funded loans, as the Government scrambles to resolve the mounting gas crisis.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, has had held several meetings with energy bosses over the weekend and they are expected to continue this week, amid warnings that dozens of companies could go bust. A bailout fund is one of several options on the table, with the industry fearing a financial crisis-style collapse.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister, signalled a willingness to let some of them collapse, telling the BBC: "We would much prefer to see diversity in the market... but our priority is to protect the consumer and protect the integrity of gas supply."

Speaking to Sky News, he added: "We will do absolutely everything we can to protect our consumer... Exactly how we do that will be up for discussion."

He insisted that the UK was "in a pretty good place" because of the nature of supply both domestically and from "reliable" partners such as Norway.

12:00 PM

Lobby latest: France remains 'close ally and friend', says Downing Street

Downing Street has insisted relations with France remain close despite the furious diplomatic row over the Australian submarine deal.

A No 10 spokesman: "France remains a close ally and friend of the UK, and we are proud of the relationship we have with France.

"We will continue to work closely with them. We work extremely closely in many areas - Mali being a good example, on counter-terrorism operations and in many other areas, and that work will obviously continue."

He insisted the Aukus deal between Australia, the UK and US was "in no way intended to be exclusionary" and "we obviously continue to work closely with other countries through Nato, through other international bodies".

11:55 AM

Create Northern Rock-style 'bad bank' to protect energy consumers, says Lib Dem leader

The Government must "restore calm" to the energy market by creating a Northern Rock-style 'bad bank' to protect consumers whose suppliers have - or will - go under, the leader of the Liberal Democrats has said.

During the financial crisis, theestablished UK Asset Resolution, a state-owned company was created to manage the assets of Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock.

Sir Ed Davey accused the Government of having "taken their eye of the ball", warning that taxpayers now risk "having to foot the bill for the Conservatives’ energy policy failures over the last six years".

He added: "We now need urgent action to end this crisis and prevent families having to choose between eating and heating this winter. Today ministers must restore calm to the market and consider creating a Northern Rock style energy company to take on customers of companies that have gone under.

"But we also need a massive home insulation programme so we are prepared for the next crisis. The Liberal Democrats are demanding that all UK homes are upgraded within ten years - including fully funded grants for those in fuel poverty and on low incomes."

11:38 AM

What's on the agenda today - update

As expected, Kwasi Kwarteng will be updating the Commons on the energy crisis.

The Business Secretary will be making a ministerial statement, rather than answering an urgent question, however.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, will also be giving a statement.

11:34 AM

Could Dan Jarvis be poised for a return to Labour frontbench?

Dan Jarvis has announced plans to step down as mayor of South Yorkshire, fuelling speculation he could be poised to make a return to the Labour frontbench.

Mr Jarvis, who is also the MP for Barnsley Central, had been a shadow minister holding multiple briefs under Ed Miliband, and was even seen as a leadership hopeful. But the Iraq veteran and centrist politician took a backseat (literally) during Jeremy Corbyn's time at the helm.

That could be about to change....

11:26 AM

Lobby latest: No change to planned Universal Credit cut

Downing Street insisted the £20 a week cut in Universal Credit would go ahead as planned despite the increase in energy bills putting pressure on household finances.

A Number 10 spokesman said the "uplift to Universal Credit was always temporary", and had been designed to "help claimants through the economic shock and the toughest period of the pandemic".

The uplift in the benefit is scheduled to end on October 6.

However Iain Duncan Smith and Damian Green are hoping to lead a Tory rebellion against the plans today - see 10:31am and 10am for more.

11:24 AM

Lobby latest: UK food chain 'incredibly resilient', Downing Street insists

No 10 has insisted the UK food chain is "incredibly resilient" amid warnings of shortages due to a lack of CO2.

Food manufacturers and supermarkets have warned that Christmas could be "cancelled", with just days left before the process is disrupted and supplies become tight (see 8:20am and 8:18am for more).

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "We've got a highly resilient food supply chain in the UK, we've seen that throughout the pandemic, and we will obviously continue to work with industries that are facing issues to ensure that remains the case."

He added: "As I've just said, we have an incredibly resilient supply chain when it comes to food and we're well prepared to handle any potential disruptions."

11:22 AM

Labour: Energy crisis caused by 'fundamental failure of long-term planning'

Labour has blamed a "fundamental failure of long-term government planning" for the brewing energy crisis.

Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, said: "A basic duty of government is to ensure secure, affordable energy supplies for businesses and consumers. It is a fundamental failure of long-term government planning over the last decade that we are so exposed and vulnerable as a country and it is families and businesses that are paying the price.

"The Government must take all necessary steps to ensure stability for customers and do everything in its powers to mitigate the effects of this crisis on businesses and consumers.

"Yet it is making the squeeze on household finances worse by putting up taxes for working people and cutting Universal Credit.”

11:16 AM

Lobby latest: No plans to drop energy price cap amid crisis, says No 10

No 10 has said there are currently no proposed changes to the energy price cap.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "The price cap remains in place, as I say, to protect consumers from sudden increases in global gas prices and it will save them money this winter."

Pushed on whether the cap could change between October and the next review date in April 2022, he added: "I'm not aware of any proposed change to the price cap."

Earlier today, one of the at-risk suppliers said the price cap was "suffocating" the industry - see 11;27am for more.

11:07 AM

Labour MP calls for meeting with Keir Starmer over abuse

A Labour MP who is avoiding the party's conference following abuse over her views on trans issues has requested a meeting with Sir Keir Starmer.

Rosie Duffield, the Canterbury MP, said she decided a few weeks ago not to attend the event, which starts on Saturday, because "I didn't want to be the centre of attention".

Asked if it would be "helpful" to talk to the party leader, she said: "Yes, that would be good. Lots of women have been asking to meet with Starmer in groups or one-to-one about this issue.

"And obviously, he's incredibly busy. But it would be good to just clarify what our position is as a party and just to discuss how we go forward with this issue."

She said Sir Keir was "always positive about trying to organise a meeting" but it has not yet happened.

11:03 AM

2021 Winter of Discontent? Third union rejects healthworker pay deal

Alongside a looming energy crisis, the Government looks set to be grappling with widespread industrial action, as more health workers reject the three per cent pay rise.

The GMB union, which represents ambulance crews, has called for an urgent meeting with Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, after more than nine in 10 of its members voted to oppose the pay "insult". It will now move to a strike ballot.

The GMB is campaigning for a rise of 15 per cent to replace what it says has been lost from NHS pay packets over the last decade.

GMB national officer Rachel Harrison said: "GMB members across the NHS have overwhelmingly rejected the offer. We now have no alternative as a union but to trigger industrial action ballots."

Members of Unison and the Royal College of Nursing have also voted against the pay rise.

10:51 AM

British Gas to take on 350,000 customers from failed firm

British Gas has agreed to take on an extra 350,000 domestic customers from collapsed energy firm People's Energy, regulator Ofgem has confirmed.

The company went bust last week, leading to Ofgem finding another supplier to take on the firm's customers.

Outstanding credit balances including money owed to both existing and former domestic customers of People's Energy will also be honoured.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, is expected to answer questions on the brewing energy crisis later today.

But there are several other firms fearing for their future - read on for more.

10:44 AM

ICYMI: Nancy Pelosio visits the Rovers Return

Sir Lindsay Hoyle welcomed fellow speakers from around the world to his home seat of Chorley over the weekend, for the G7 Speakers' Conference.

Nancy Pelosi and co were treated to Morecambe Bay shrimps, Lancashire hot pot and Chorley cakes during their visit - as well as a trip to the set of Coronation Street.

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives looks somewhat bemused to find herself behind a fake bar....

10:38 AM

UK is 'especially vulnerable' to energy crisis, says former government adviser

The UK is "especially vulnerable" to an energy crisis, a former government adviser on energy security has said.

Clive Moffatt, founder and former chairman of the UK Energy Security Group, told Sky News there were three reasons the UK was at risk from supply fluctuations: the "very high" reliance on gas for heating and power; the high reliance on imports, making up around 80 per cent; and the fact there is "very little storage of gas in the UK - less than two per cent of total annual gas demand".

Boris Johnson's suggestion that it was as a result of the post-pandemic recovery was "partly" right, but the problem was "not so short term as he implied," Mr Moffatt added.

A shift towards renewables would not be sufficient to address those issues for "the next few years", he added.

"Consumers will have to pay either more tax or more price, but at the end of the day, these situations are going to continue," he added.

10:27 AM

Government must fix 'fundamental problems' in UK energy supply

The Government has been called upon to fix the "fundamental problems" in the UK's energy market, amid warnings the price cap has been "suffocating" the industry.

Dale Vince, chief executive of green energy supplier Ecotricity, told the BBC the electricity and gas shortages the county faces this week cannot be resolved short-term, saying: "It's a question of what sticking plasters we can apply to get through the winter."

But he added: "The energy market is in crisis anyway. Small suppliers have been going bankrupt at the rate of one in every six weeks for the last two years.... We have a price cap that sets the energy price super low which allows a margin of about two per cent for energy companies which is suffocating.

"We've got a Government stealth tax amounting to 25 per cent on everybody's electricity bill, which really needs to be removed. And, of course, we're dependent on foreign markets for oil and gas.

"We need to build renewable energy as if there's no tomorrow. In the next 10 years we could go 100 per cent energy independent in our country for electricity and gas."

10:20 AM

Nick Timothy: With the Aukus treaty, ‘Global Britain’ is beginning to take shape

As the French make fools of themselves, it would take a heart of stone not to laugh, writes Nick Timothy.

The Aukus treaty, President Macron insists, is a humiliation because France was not invited to join. But in signing the treaty, his ministers say, Britain is becoming a “vassal” of the United States.

The country that demands a European army to counter American power, declares Nato “brain-dead”, and seeks European “strategic autonomy”, has recalled its US ambassador because America and Britain agreed to share secret nuclear submarine technology with Australia.

French histrionics reflect commercial frustration, the proximity of a presidential election, and geopolitical anxiety. The EU wants to avoid choosing sides between America and China. France wants to secure its future as a Pacific Ocean power.

Read more from Nick here.

09:58 AM

What's on the agenda today?

As always with Monday, things are only pencilled in until the Speaker has selected urgent questions or ministerial statements later on today - but here is the schedule as things stand.

I'd be very surprised if there isn't a debate on the energy crisis, but even without that the cost of living is likely to dominate this afternoon's debate on the Social Security Bill.

See 10:31am and posts throughout for more.

09:46 AM

Have your say: How damaging could a 'cost of living crisis' be for Boris Johnson?

It's been many years since the country faced a real "cost of living crisis", but many commentators believe that is precisely what we are in for.

The energy crisis, food shortages and labour shortages are all pushing up prices, with warnings that Christmas could be cancelled (but this time, it's the turkey that will be missing, rather than your family).

That is combining with tax rises and the end of the £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit - which could push more than 800,000 people into poverty, according to the Legatum Institute think tank.

Some of these issues are outside of the Government's control - but many are very much within their power to resolve. Either way, there are warnings it could lead to political danger for Boris Johnson and co. Have your say in the poll below.

09:31 AM

Boris Johnson braces for Tory backbench rebellion over Universal Credit cut

Boris Johnson might be in New York, but back in Westminster he risks a Tory rebellion over plans to cut the £20 uplift to Universal Credit led by two senior backbenchers.

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, and Damian Green, the deputy prime minister under Theresa May, have tabled an amendment to pensions legislation in a bid block the end of the temporary benefits boost, which will coincide with higher gas bills and the end of furlough.

The architect of the Universal Credit system is hoping to have his amendment tacked onto the Social Security (Up-Rating of Benefits) Bill, although there are no guarantees it will be selected as it is not directly relevant. Even if Sir Lindsay Hoyle does so, the vote will be non-binding.

However it could give the Government something of a bloody nose - at a point when the cost of living looks set to become a real political risk for the PM.

See 10am for more

09:16 AM

YOLO at DLUHC: Michael Gove's new department finally gets rebranded

Michael Gove's appointment initially appeared to be a demotion - but his responsibilities span the Government - Anadolu Agency
Michael Gove's appointment initially appeared to be a demotion - but his responsibilities span the Government - Anadolu Agency

After a few days spent ironing out the branding, Michael Gove's bolstered department has finally got its name.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) will become the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) - having narrowly avoided becoming DULU (the Department for the Union and Levelling Up).

Mr Gove's job title equally verbose: Levelling Up, Housing & Communities Secretary. and minister for intergovernmental relations.

The change was announced over the weekend, along with the news that Andy Haldane, long-time chief economist at the Bank of England, will head the levelling up taskforce launched by Boris Johnson and Mr Gove.

He joins as a permanent secretary in the Cabinet Office, on secondment from the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) for six months.

09:05 AM

Keir Starmer must 'nip abuse in the bud' as Labour MP drops out of conference

Sir Keir Starmer should investigate whether abuse towards Rosie Duffield is coming from within Labour and make sure it is "nipped in the bud asap", an MP has said.

Ms Duffield, the MP for Canterbury, has said she will not attend the party's conference next week over fears for her safety (see 8:56am).

Colleague Emma Lewell-Buck told the BBC it was Ms Duffield's "personal choice", saying: "If she feels that she wouldn’t be safe then I think she’s got no choice but to stay away."

She added: "This is symptomatic of how polarised and volatile debate has become in this country, people no longer respect other people’s views or other people’s opinions and they react to each other with anger and aggression. I’m really sad that Rosie doesn’t feel conference is going to be a safe space for her and that is something that we need to tackle.

"It’s something that Keir needs to have a look at and say: ‘Where is this coming from?’. If it’s coming from people within our movement then that needs to be nipped in the bud asap."

09:00 AM

Cost of living crisis could pose 'real political danger' to Government

The combination of tax rises, cuts to Universal Credit and surging energy prices could present "real political danger" for the Government, a Tory peer has warned.

Gavin Barwell, a former MP who served as chief of staff under Theresa May, told the BBC the rise in gas prices " definitely has the potential to become a crisis".

He added: "I think that the first concern of Government will be about ensuring security of supply, making sure that we’re all still getting the gas that we need, both domestic and businesses. But the second concern will be about prices that consumers are being asked to pay…

"More generally, they will also be worried about the cost of living. We’ve got the tax increases that they’ve just brought in, we’ve got the Universal Credit reduction, that’s about to come online, plus rising energy bills, I think there is a real political danger here of cost of living issues becoming a real difficulty for the Government.”

08:46 AM

Hertfordshire Police make 29 arrests as climate activists glue themselves to road

Police arrest climate change protesters who glued themselves to the road - Jeff Gilbert
Police arrest climate change protesters who glued themselves to the road - Jeff Gilbert

A further 29 climate change protesters have been arrested at junctions on the M25 and A1M, Hertfordshire Police said, as Insulate Britain demonstrators glued themselves to the road.

Chief Superintendent Nick Caveney said: "Officers were on the scene within minutes of being alerted to protest activity, allowing us to put diversions in place to ease the traffic and to make numerous arrests. All protesters involved in this morning's protests have been arrested and will be taken to custody.

"We are working closely with other affected forces to ensure that any further activity is dealt with effectively and efficiently," he added. "I understand and appreciate the frustration regarding the considerable delays and inconvenience that has occurred as a result of the protests."

In the last week, Hertfordshire Police have made 76 arrests, with a "full investigation" underway "to ensure that hose breaking the law are brought to justice."

08:37 AM

Taxpayers should not 'write a blank cheque' to resolve energy crisis, says think tank

The Government should not expect taxpayers to "write a blank cheque" to resolve the energy crisis, but allow free-market forces to play their part, a think tank has said.

Julian Jessop, economics fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: "The poorest households should be protected from soaring bills, but the taxpayer should not be expected to write a blank cheque to bail out energy companies.

"Market forces need to be allowed to work and if this means that relative prices have to change to balance supply and demand, then so be it.

"There may be a case for Government loans to fundamentally sound businesses that are facing temporary problems as a result of global shortages. However, these companies should still be expected to borrow on commercial terms.

"Otherwise, there is a risk that the industry fails to adapt and that it remains vulnerable to further shocks."

08:27 AM

Ne Parly pas: France cancels defence summit with UK as submarine deal fallout continues

France has cancelled a ministerial defence meeting with Britain this week amid an escalating diplomatic row over a nuclear-powered submarine deal.

Paris was left blindsided by the announcement last week of a new trilateral security pact between the UK, US and Australia - known as Aukus - as Canberra cancelled a £72.8 billion deal with the French for diesel-electric submarines as a result.

Reacting with fury this weekend, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused the UK of “permanent opportunism”, while the French Europe minister Clement Beaune accused Britain of being a vassal state of Washington.

On Sunday night it emerged that French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly had decided to scrap a meeting planned for this week with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Read more here.

08:18 AM

'Outlook is bleak', warns small energy firm

One of the small energy firms grappling with the current crisis has warned that it is "unlikely we will see the winter through", without Government support.

Peter McGirr, chief executive of Green Energy, which supplies around 360,000 people in the UK, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme "the outlook is looking bleak" with current events in the market, including continued rising prices and the shortage of gas.

Mr McGirr added: "It is not that I have a bad business model or I have a bad business.

"We just don't have as deep pockets to keep going through this crisis. I think that all suppliers are feeling the pinch of this but some of them just have a lot deeper pockets to try and ride out the storm."

08:10 AM

'Ego-driven' climate change protests 'claiming credit for the sunrise', says minister

"Ego-driven" protesters blocking the M25 are "adding nothing" to the cause of tackling climate change, a Government minister has said.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "It is a completely inappropriate way of making the point they're trying to make."

He added: "The vast, vast majority of people want to see us tackling climate change, we are tackling climate change... the UK is actually a real leader on this.

"So I have to say, my belief is that those disruptions and protests are more ego-driven, rather than issues-driven. And I would strongly urge the people involved in it not to put themselves and others at harm by this continued disruption."

He added: "These protesters are waking up at lunchtime and claiming credit for the sunrise. The simple fact is the UK is already pushing the world to do more and we are walking the walk as well as talking the talk and these protesters are adding nothing to that discussion."

07:59 AM

Poultry and pork shortages 'two weeks away', warns industry body

The chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, has said the country could be two weeks away from British meat disappearing from supermarket shelves because of a shortage of CO2.

Nick Allen told Sky News: "The meat industry, in particular the pig and poultry industry, use CO2 for humane slaughter. Eighty per cent of pigs and poultry are slaughtered using that process... [the fertiliser plants] closed at very short notice with no warning. It really hit us cold.

"We're hoping and praying the Government can negotiate with these plants to reopen. But even then, it'll take about three days to restart."

Mr Allen said meat manufacturers have said they have between five and 15 days' supply left.

He added: "Then they will have to stop. That means animals will have to stay on farms. That will cause farmers huge animal welfare problems and British pork and poultry will stay off the shelves. We're two weeks away from seeing some real impact on the shelves."

07:56 AM

Labour MP: My presence at party conference 'would irritate' certain groups

Rosie Duffield has decided not to attend the Labour Party Conference as she wants people to focus on Sir Keir Starmer's first conference speech since the pandemic. - PA
Rosie Duffield has decided not to attend the Labour Party Conference as she wants people to focus on Sir Keir Starmer's first conference speech since the pandemic. - PA

A Labour MP who will miss her party conference this week amid fears over her safety has said abuse against women "always turns to violence".

Rosie Duffield, who has clashed with transgender rights campaigners, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that male ministers who "have had to resign" - such as Matt Hancock - get "jokey, off-the-cuff and silly" abuse, while women "get the violence, pictures of guns, pictures of mocked-up nooses".

Ms Duffield added: "There are groups that would be at the Labour Party conference where my presence would irritate.

"It is hard to know how serious to take threats from people who post them online - I don't always very often take them that seriously - but they are pretty awful and I did not want to subject myself and other people to that kind of abuse."

07:49 AM

Boris Johnson won't need to 'bang tables' when he meets Joe Biden over travel ban

Boris Johnson is in New York where he will attend the UN General Assembly before his first White House trip since entering Number 10 - PA
Boris Johnson is in New York where he will attend the UN General Assembly before his first White House trip since entering Number 10 - PA

There will be "no need" for Boris Johnson to "bang any tables" as he looks to persuade Joe Biden to restart travel between the UK and US, a minister has said.

The Prime Minister is expected to make an “impassioned” case for why the US President should lift his travel ban by allowing fully vaccinated people in the UK to travel directly into America.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister, told Radio 4's Today programme: "Obviously international travel is incredibly important for the UK. We want to get to situation where Brits can travel to one of our closest partners in the world."

Mr Johnson will be making the case that "travel to and from UK is safe, it is important to us and as a strong international partners it is what we should be looking to do", he added, stressing that the recent Ausuk deal demonstrated that the two countries were "very much on the same page".

He added: "I have no doubt there will be no need to bang any tables to get the point across."

07:45 AM

Government pledges to protect 'diversification of supply' during energy crisis

The Government will be looking to maintain the "the diversification of supply", during crisis talks with energy firms this week, a minister has said.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Officer minister, told Radio 4's Today programme: "Ultimately, [Kwasi Kwarteng], the Business Secretary, will be discussing with the market, with the sector, what we can do to ensure two things happen.

"Firstly to protect consumers from unpredictable price hikes- and the cap is in place to do that. But also security of provision. Exactly how we do that will be up for discussion.

"But we want to make sure diversification of supply - it is better for consumers, it is generally healthier."

07:40 AM

Food crisis could 'stimulate greater diversification' in market, says minister

The looming food shortage crisis prompted by the closure of two large fertiliser plants in Teesside and Cheshire could prompt more CO2 suppliers to launch, a minister has said.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister, told Radio 4's Today programme that the number of suppliers would be "defined largely by the market", but that the crisis did "highlight a situation where there small number of providers".

He added: "It may well stimulate greater diversification in the market."

But Mr Cleverly stressed that it was "short-term challenges, driven by the world economy coming out of Covid-19".

07:35 AM

Minister refuses to disclose number of British dual nationals held in Iran

A minister has refused to say how many British dual nationals were being held in Iran, saying it is not in their best interest to do so.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister, told LBC that Iran "currently hold a number of British dual nationals in detention, completely arbitrary detention".

He insisted he did know the figure, but refused to disclose it, saying: "I'm not going to discuss that this morning because, actually, it's not always in the best interests of the people that we're trying to help.... It's not always in the best interest of the individuals for their cases to be publicised."

Pushed as to whether he knew the figure, he said: "I do, I work on this all the time."

07:31 AM

Ausuk deal 'not about France', minister says, as diplomatic row escalates

The major military deal struck between the UK, US and Australia is "not about France," a minister has said today, amid a diplomatic row.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Office minister, told Sky News: "With any international relationship there are ups and downs. I have no doubt we will be able to resolve any frictions that there are currently with France... This is Global Britain engaging with the world, working with all partners across the world - including Australia and the US."

Responding to reports this morning that France has said trade talks with Australia are now "unthinkable", Mr Cleverly said: "Contractual relationships between Australia and France is for Australia and France."

07:30 AM

No link between Brexit and energy crisis, says minister

There is no connection between the growing energy crisis and Brexit, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly has said.

Asked if there was a link, he told LBC: "No, no, this is hitting a number of countries around the world and it is - I think the Prime Minister summed up rather well - this is a byproduct of the sudden increase in demand as we come out of Covid.

"Globally, the UK is in a better position than many countries because, obviously, we have a domestic gas production capability, and our imported gas is from very, very reliable partners like Norway.

"So whilst this is affecting many, many parts of the world simultaneously, actually the UK is in a better position than many."

07:25 AM

Release of dual nationals 'top of agenda' in UK-Iran meeting

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is one of several dual nationals being held by Iran - Shutterstock
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is one of several dual nationals being held by Iran - Shutterstock

The release of dual nationals by Iran will be "top of the agenda" at a meeting between new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and her Iranian counterpart, a Foreign Office minister has said.

Ms Truss will meet with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday.

James Cleverly said: "We will continue pushing and we will not rest until we get them all home. Their incarceration is arbitrary, it's completely unjustified and we have made it clear that we will not stop working to get those British dual nationals home."

Asked how confident he was that Ms Truss would succeed where others had failed, he said: "Well, it is never easy negotiating with the Iranian leadership. But... she's an incredibly focused and energetic minister, she's well-regarded for that, and I have no doubt that she will apply that energy to these negotiations."

07:22 AM

'We will put food on the tables', minister promises, amid warnings that Christmas could be cancelled

The Government's "priority" is ensuring that food supplies are unaffected by gas shortages, a minister has said.

Speaking after the owner of Bernard Matthews warned that C)2 shortages mean "Christmas will be cancelled" (see post below), James Cleverly said the Government was working to address "some short-term shortages."

The Foreign Office minister added: "We will ensure that we are able to put food on the tables, that is a real priority."

On the medium and longer-term, he said the Government wanted to ensure "the UK is increasingly self sufficient in terms of good production, logistics chain - HGV drivers and so on."

07:20 AM

CO2 shortage means 'Christmas will be cancelled', warns Bernard Matthews boss

Iceland is not the only food business to raise a warning over the impact of CO2 shortages on Christmas.

This weekend, Ranjit Singh Boparan, the owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, said the closure of two large fertiliser plants in Teesside and Cheshire due to a sharp rise in gas prices could mean "Christmas will be cancelled".

CO2 is essential to the humane slaughter of livestock, extends the shelf life of products and is vital to cooling systems for refrigeration purposes, industry leaders have said.

He said: There are less than 100 days left until Christmas and Bernard Matthews and my other poultry businesses are working harder than ever before to try and recruit people to maintain food supplies.”

He said that “the gaps on the shelves” that he had warned about in July were “getting bigger by the day”.

Boparan continued: “The supply of Bernard Matthews turkeys this Christmas was already compromised as I need to find 1,000 extra workers to process supplies. Now, with no CO2 supply, Christmas will be cancelled.

07:18 AM

Supermarket boss raises warning over Christmas food shortages

A shortage of CO2 could cause food shortages in the run-up to Christmas, the managing director of Iceland supermarket has said.

Richard Walker told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that suppliers who are looking at some of the stock they hold and their just-in-time chains are suggesting this "could become a problem over the coming days and weeks".

He said: "This is not an issue that is months away, that is for sure. We are building up our stocks on key lines like frozen meat just to make sure we can deal with any unforeseen issue.

"At the moment we are fully stocked and our suppliers are OK, but we do need this sorted as quickly as possible."

07:16 AM

Price cap will not prevent rise in prices, minister admits

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said the energy price cap was not there for "preventing any increase in prices in perpetuity" ahead of a planned 12 per cent rise on October 1.

He told Times Radio: "It was about making sure that those increases were modest, and predictable, and it's doing exactly what it was designed to do.

"It's already protected hundreds of thousands of people from volatile energy prices and will continue to do so. It's about making sure that people can budget and they know what's coming, and it has done exactly what it was designed to do.

"But, as I say, we will explore with the sector about how to make sure we protect the consumers of energy, both domestic and commercial, and also make sure we protect the long-term supply of energy to the UK."

07:00 AM

Boris Johnson to tell Joe Biden: 'Lift travel ban and let Britons back into America'

Boris Johnson with Dame Barbara Janet Woodward, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations as he lands in New York - PA
Boris Johnson with Dame Barbara Janet Woodward, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations as he lands in New York - PA

Boris Johnson will push Joe Biden to change Covid-19 travel rules and let Britons fly to America when they meet on Tuesday in the White House for the first time.

The Prime Minister will make an “impassioned” case for why the US President should lift his travel ban by allowing fully vaccinated people in the UK to travel directly into America.

Mr Biden’s failure to ease restrictions - despite both leaders pledging to take action when they met at the G7 summit in June - has frustrated Whitehall and left UK businesses despairing.

There will also be a push for Mr Biden to promise billions of dollars more in climate financing for developing nations to help Mr Johnson hit a flagship Cop26 UN climate conference target.

06:58 AM

Good Morning

The Prime Minister flew to New York on Sunday, kick-starting a four-day US visit where he will attend the UN General Assembly before his first White House trip since entering Number 10 in July 2019.

But there is plenty of drama back here in Westminster, with the Government scrambling to address the energy crisis - and questions about whether it could even lead to Christmas being cancelled (again).

Here is today's front page.

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