Michael Gove pauses planning reform amid Tory backlash

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Michael Gove was appointed Housing Secretary just yesterday - PA
Michael Gove was appointed Housing Secretary just yesterday - PA

Michael Gove has paused the long-awaited planning reforms, in a bid to quell massive unease from Tory backbenchers, in one of his first acts as Housing Secretary.

The Cabinet minister, who is expected to receive a beefed up job title reflecting his Union and levelling up briefs, has halted plans to bring forward legislation. He now plans to review proposals in the hope of seeing off a massive rebellion from MPs.

Under proposals readied by his predecessor Robert Jenrick, the current system - where local planning officials assess applications case-by-case - would be replaced with new rules based on zones.

But there were concerns this would result in local residents having less control over developments once areas have been assigned one of three categories: "protected", for "renewal", or for "growth".

One Government insider told The Telegraph Mr Jenrick's mishandling of the reforms was "what did for him", despite his personal friendship with the Prime Minister. "It's a key manifesto commitment and has to be delivered," he added.

03:01 PM

And that's it for another day...

Boris Johnson could perhaps sense the tension in the room - that would explain the awkward jokes as he gave his new Cabinet a "half-time pep talk".

But Dominic Raab was in no mood to smile as he sat next to his replacement, Liz Truss. The pair are already said to be squabbling over who has access to Chevening - and Number 10 has refused to adjudicate for now.

After the high drama of the week, there were just a few smaller roles left to fill, but some of those with new jobs are already starting to make their mark.

And with the Liberal Democrats party conference kicking off today, it's clear that the Conservatives will have to start meeting their manifesto pledges - particularly on planning - if they don't want to see anymore Chesham & Amersham type results.

We spoke to Christian Wakeford, MP for Bury South, about some of the challenges facing the Tories, with planning also featuring highly.

For all this and the rest of the day's news, carry on reading below.

03:01 PM

Labour: Planning reforms must be scrapped

Michael Gove must scrap planning reforms outright, Labour has said.

Steve Reed, shadow communities and local government secretary, said: "These reforms don’t just need to be paused, they need to be scrapped altogether. Michael Gove needs to confirm that the Conservatives’ hated Developers’ Charter is dead and buried and set out how this Government intends to meet its housing targets.

"These reforms will pay back developers by selling out communities and gagging residents from having a say over development in their area. Even Conservative councils have signalled their opposition.

"These hated reforms won’t fix the housing crisis or give local people a stake in their areas. That’s why Labour introduced a Use it or Lose it Bill to protect local residents’ voice while speeding up housebuilding across the country."

02:52 PM

Freefall: Dominic Raab raises £20,000 for skydiving

Some reshuffles put political careers into freefall.

But Dominic Raab, who has retained a Cabinet seat, despite his promotion, is rising above it - raising £20,000 for a skydive he will do in October.

02:39 PM

Reshuffle: Boris Johnson makes trio of appointments

Boris Johnson has made a further three promotions to the line-up of junior ministers.

George Freeman, a former transport minister, returns to the Government as a business minister.

Marcus Jones has been named comptroller of HM Household - a whip role - alongside James Morris, whose official title is vice chamberlain of HM Household.

John Glen continues as City minister - otherwise known as the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, having recently become the longest-serving person in that role.

See 1:31pm for more

02:28 PM

Boris Johnson gives new Cabinet 'half-time pep talk'

oris Johnson has given his overhauled Cabinet a jubilant "half-time pep talk", and called on them to work together in delivering key manifesto pledges.

The Prime Minister, whose wife Carrie is pregnant with their second child, joked that he had "seen a few delivery rooms, probably seen as many delivery rooms as anybody in this ... with the possible exception of Jacob [Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader]."

He added: "I know that delivery normally involves a superhuman effort by at least one person in the room, but there are plenty of other people in that room who are absolutely indispensable to that successful outcome."

With Dominic Raab, who was demoted to Justice Secretary, sitting next to his replacement as Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, the Prime Minister urged ministers to work together.

"This is, if you like, the half-time pep talk. This is the moment when we spit out the orange peel, we adjust our gum shields and our scrum caps," he said. "And we get out on to the pitch in the knowledge that we're going to have to do it together and we're going to have to do it as a team."

02:17 PM

Labour losing members 'hand over fist', claims John McDonnell

Labour is losing members "hand over fist" because of Sir Keir Starmer's handling of disciplinary action against some members on the Left of the party, the former shadow chancellor has said.

John McDonnell told the BBC that he had heard of "large numbers of members of the party being excluded from the party on the basis of statements or retweeting something from one of these groups before they were proscribed".

He added: "This flies in the face of natural justice… It is like being guilty of pre-crime... This sends a message throughout the party to some members that they are not welcome.

"My understanding is we have lost at least 100,000 members so far. If you start losing that mass membership, we are undermining our ability to fight elections - which is appalling."

02:07 PM

Booster programmes 'unethical', says Covid vaccine manufacturer

The head of the world's largest vaccine maker said Friday it was "unethical" to give third doses of the Covid-19 vaccine while developing nations are struggling to access first and second jabs.

Adar Poonawalla, billionaire chief executive of Serum Institute of India, spoke out as he announced a $4.9 billion deal to take a 15 percent stake in a rival pharma firm, allowing vaccine production to be ramped up.

The UK began its booster programme yesterday, in defiance of calls from the World Health Organisation and others to prioritise low income countries first.

"It's unethical to start giving three doses to somebody when others in certain countries and populations have not even got two doses," Poonawalla told reporters.

He added it was "not right" to roll out booster shots when poorer countries have "not been able to get the vaccines purely because the rich nations have taken away most of the vaccines."

01:46 PM

Watch: Andrew Neil suggests he quit GB News because it was 'not my kind of journalism'

Andrew Neil has said he quit GB News because he was concerned about the direction the channel was taking and said he was in a "minority of one" among senior managers and the board.

Mr Neil told the BBC's Question Time that he did not want to work for a "British Fox", referring to the Right-wing US news channel, saying it is "not my kind of journalism" and claiming the channel "deals in untruths, it deals in conspiracy theories, and it deals in fake news".

But when asked by host Fiona Bruce if he left GB News because it was too Right-wing, Mr Neil refused to answer and instead said people should "make up their own minds".

Watch the discussion above.

01:32 PM

Friday Q&A: Government must need planning concerns, says Tory MP

The Telegraph's Politics Live talks to Christian Wakeford, Conservative MP for Bury South.

What are the biggest issues your constituents face? Do you think the Government has a full understanding of the problem and is able to address it?

In terms of the biggest issues my constituents face, there’s the ones that most MPs would say on health and crime, even more so with the local force being in special measures.

But then there’s particular planning concerns affecting not only the borough but the wider Greater Manchester conurbation which are being forced through despite opposition from the public. Like a lot of towns there's a general feeling of neglect and being forgotten with a dire need of regeneration which isn’t just shiny new buildings but a shift in how we look at the skills agenda also.

As with any part of the UK, there is a growing desire to see meaningful impact on climate change also, particularly from younger residents which not only going into conference but going into COP26- we need to be doing much more on.

Whilst I believe the Government does have an understanding on these issues, more should and must be done to address these issues.

01:25 PM

Friday Q&A: Boris Johnson must explain what levelling up means, says Tory MP

The Telegraph's Politics Live talks to Christian Wakeford, Conservative MP for Bury South.

What do you think are the biggest challenges the Prime Minister faces this autumn? What would you like to see from him?

The biggest challenge for the Prime Minister will be to put some meaningful flesh on the bones as to what levelling up for the country will look like.

We all have our own views as to what this should look like, my own view is that its education and skills to improve life chances, but so far we have a slogan and a soundbite but the main thing we have around levelling up is a question- what is it?

This is the prime opportunity for that question to be answered in a post pandemic narrative.

01:20 PM

Matthew Lynn: Britain faces a winter of economic carnage

Prices are rising. Wages are soaring out of control. Covid still threatens to close down the economy in the blink of an eye, and, on top of all that, there could easily be power shortages, closing schools and factories, over the winter, writes Matthew Lynn.

The British economy faces a perilous winter.

But that isn't the worst of it. The real problem is the dangerous complacency of both the Government and the Bank of England. A crisis always takes everyone by surprise - and right now we are sleepwalking straight into one.

Read more from Matthew here.

01:09 PM

Friday Q&A: Conservatives must unite the party divided over Covid, says MP

The Telegraph's Politics Live talks to Christian Wakeford, Conservative MP for Bury South.

What do you think are the biggest challenges the party faces going into the conference?

Arguably the biggest challenge facing the party going into conference is how to unite a party that has been divided over several policies whether it be foreign aid or coronavirus regulations.

We keep talking about the benefits of us being a broad church as a party and there is room for a plethora of views although at times that has narrowed considerably over the last years and feels rather binary as opposed to embracing a multitude of opinions.

This needs to be corrected before we get onto a campaign footing with one eye on the next general election

01:01 PM

Rocketman 'on the warpath' with Boris Johnson over musician visas

Sir Elton John: He's still standing (up for young British musicians) - AFP
Sir Elton John: He's still standing (up for young British musicians) - AFP

Sir Elton John said he has requested a meeting with Boris Johnson and is "on the warpath" over visa issues for musicians touring in the European Union.

Speaking on Apple Music 1, the chart-topping singer claimed the Prime Minister has yet to respond to his appeal for a meeting.

The 74-year-old dedicated his show to a "special theme" in which he played music by young British artists unable to tour "because of what happened with the Brexit situation".

"It's impossible for young artists financially to pay for visas, negotiate their way through all of the red tape that's necessary for going to Europe," he added. "It's financially impossible for them to do so. So I'm on the warpath to try and get this sorted out. And I've requested a meeting with Boris Johnson; I've yet to hear back from him."

12:50 PM

Union threatens Christmas disruption over Tesco pay deal

Tesco could have "empty shelves this winter, "unions have threatened, as members are balloted over strike action after rejecting a pay deal.

Lorry drivers and warehouse workers at four Tesco distribution centres have rejected a below inflation pay offer, of 2.5 per cent, which Unite dubbed "meagre".

They are now threatening to disrupt the Christmas period - at a time when supply chains are already stretched and shelves looking sparse.

Unite's new general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: "Tesco’s staff have kept working throughout the pandemic and that alone surely means they deserve a decent pay rise. Instead, they are being offered what is, in effect, a pay cut.

"Tesco’s shareholders will be well rewarded out of Tesco’s three billion pound profits. Unite is preparing for industrial action now to make sure the workers get their share as well."

12:33 PM

Government spent £2.8bn on unusable PPE, minister admits

Personal protective equipment (PPE) worth £2.8 billion is not fit for purpose and cannot be used by the NHS, a health minister has revealed.

Lord Bethell said 1.9 billion items of stock are currently in the "do not supply" to the NHS category.

He was answering a Parliamentary question from crossbencher Lord Alton of Liverpool around "faulty PPE" that has not met the required level of protection.

"As of June 10, 1.9 billion items of stock were in the 'do not supply' category," Lord Bethell said. "This is equivalent to 6.2 per cent of purchased volume with an estimated value of £2.8 billion.

"We are considering options to repurpose and recycle items in this category which ensures safety and value for money. Discussions with suppliers are ongoing."

12:31 PM

Reshuffle restarts with four promotions and a sacking

Boris Johnson has restarted his reshuffle with four promotions and a sacking.

James Cartlidge has been made a justice minister and assistant whip; Tom Pursglove is a joint housing and justice minister; Maria Caulfield - a former nurse - becomes a health and social care minister and David Rutley has been made a work and pensions minister.

Meanwhile David Duguid has been sacked from his role as a Scotland minister and assistant whip.

12:20 PM

Friday Q&A: Conference will shed light on policy details, says Tory MP

The Telegraph's Politics Live talks to Christian Wakeford, Conservative MP for Bury South.

Next month will be your first in-person party conference since becoming an MP - what are you expecting to get from it?

Being able to catch up with friends and colleagues is always a big positive of any party conference.

But away from the conference hall is where you’re able to find the details behind the policies and hear about the real world implications from interested stakeholders.

A new experience of speaking at several fringe events will be one I’m looking forward to but the one thing we should be hoping for is a greater understanding of where we are going as a government and as a party into a post-pandemic, post-Brexit Britain.

12:13 PM

Michael Gove faces calls to return £100,000 donation from property developer

Michael Gove is facing calls to return £100,000 of donations he recently received from a property developer.

The MPs' register of financial interests shows the Housing Secretary accepted two donations of £50,000 on August 6 from Zachariasz Gertler.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said: "Conservative planning reforms are already handing more powers to developers, and now it seems the new Housing Secretary is accepting donations from them too. To avoid any conflict of interest, Michael Gove must return this money."

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has defended the donations.

A spokesman said: "All donations made to the Secretary of State have been declared publicly and the proper process followed. The department has robust processes in place to ensure any potential conflicts of interest are managed appropriately."

11:56 AM

Friday Q&A: 'Some' manifesto commitments will be kept, says Christian Wakeford MP

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has been instrumental in breaking three manifesto commitments: foreign aid, the triple lock and tax hikes - Reuters
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has been instrumental in breaking three manifesto commitments: foreign aid, the triple lock and tax hikes - Reuters

The Telegraph's Politics Live talks to Christian Wakeford, Conservative MP for Bury South.

The pandemic has clearly rendered some of the manifesto commitments harder to deliver, while others have been outright broken. Can those promises be restored before the next election?

Assuming the Parliament continues until 2024 I do believe we can get on track for most, if not all, the commitments.

The triple lock has had to be suspended for one year due to a statistical anomaly around furlough and should correct itself within 12 months to be back in place.

The levelling up agenda has been spoken about at length during the pandemic with the levelling up fund due to announce successful bids shortly after the conference season with the intention of projects progressing quickly.

As for foreign aid, we now have a clear path back to 0.7 of GNI as the economy recovers which we all need to play our part in.

The early signs of recovery are positive which means we should be able to recommit to some of the manifesto commitments.

11:47 AM

Covid cases increase in north-west England

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 is estimated to have increased in north-west England and decreased in the West Midlands and the East of England, the ONS said.

The trend for all other regions is uncertain.

North-east England and Yorkshire and the Humber had the highest proportion of people of any region likely to test positive for coronavirus in the week to September 11: around one in 60.

Eastern England had the lowest estimate: around one in 120.

11:39 AM

Friday Q&A: Hospitality Covid rules 'didn't make sense', says Christian Wakeford

Christian Wakeford has been the MP for Bury South since 2019
Christian Wakeford has been the MP for Bury South since 2019

The Telegraph's Politics Live talks to Christian Wakeford, Conservative MP for Bury South.

You became MP at what has turned out to be the most turbulent time in living memory. How difficult has it been to navigate?

It’s certainly been a challenging time to be in politics let alone as a new MP, although with a more virtual parliament, access to ministers and briefings has probably never been higher.

Whilst still trying not to get lost on the estate and learning the etiquette of the chamber, Parliament and the Country was turned into turmoil as we entered the pandemic that no one could have anticipated that we would still be dealing with over 18 months later.

From daily press briefings or late night calls to be told you were entering heightened restrictions, its been a huge challenge not just for MPs but for their teams to keep on top of the changing rules and regulations - especially when some of those clearly didn’t make sense, like the 10pm curfew or the scotch egg debate.

11:29 AM

Philip Johnston: Is it time to return to the all-powerful party chairman?

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, a succession of Tory party chairmen were appointed who were regarded as ‘big beasts’ and not just job-fillers, writes Philip Johnston.

The post has been held down the years by some of the great names of Conservative politics – Neville Chamberlain, Viscount Hailsham, Rab Butler and Ian Macleod, who also, coincidentally, sat for the same seat as Oliver Dowden. Is there something in the Enfield water?

There have been 10 party chairmen since 2010, and even Westminster-watchers would struggle to name half of them. Moreover, there has been a tendency to split the role, as is, indeed, the case now.

But could Mr Dowden's appointment herald a step-change?

Read more from Philip here.

11:18 AM

Wales adopts vaccine passports for nightclubs and large events

Vaccine passports will be needed to enter nightclubs and attend large events in Wales, the First Minister has announced.

Mark Drakeford said people will have to show an NHS Covid Pass from next month as part of measures introduced to help control the spread of coronavirus.

"The very strong advice we have from our scientific advisers is to take early action to prevent infections increasing further," he said.

"The last thing we want is further lockdowns and for businesses to have to close their doors once again. That's why we must take small but meaningful action now to control the spread of the virus and reduce the need for tougher measures later."

From October 11, all over-18s will require a Covid pass to enter nightclubs, indoor non-seated events for more than 500 people, such as concerts or conventions, outdoor non-seated events for more than 4,000 people and any setting or event with more than 10,000 in attendance.

11:15 AM

Lobby latest: Return of pounds and ounces will 'support jobs and growth'

Downing Street has defended its review into the ban on marking and selling products in imperial units.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "Pounds and ounces are an easily understood and widely used unit of measurement.

"This is one small part of a wide-ranging drive across government to establish the right regulatory environment to support jobs and growth across the UK."

He was unable to say whether Mr Johnson uses pounds and ounces, or give a timeline on when the review would return.

11:05 AM

Lobby latest: Grant Shapps to make travel statement today

No 10 has confirmed that Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will "make an international travel update later" today, in which he is expected to overhaul its travel traffic light system and testing rules for travellers.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman hinted that the approach will see Mr Shapps announce an easing of restrictions following "steady progress" in the struggle against coronavirus.

The Downing Street spokesman stressed that restrictions could be reimposed, noting that "the pandemic is still ongoing and there is always the chance of unexpected challenges, such as an even more transmissible or more deadly variant emerging".

He added: "I think it would be wrong to rule out anything in the future but it is important to note that we continue to make steady progress to ease restrictions, and that is very much the intention of the approach we will be taking."

11:03 AM

Lobby latest: No imminent solution to Chevening row between Truss and Raab

No decision would be made over which minister will get access to grace-and-favour residence Chevening until the reshuffle is over, Number 10 has said.

Dominic Raab and his replacement Liz Truss have both staked a claim to the property, The Times reported this morning.

Asked about the stand-off, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "You will appreciate that the reshuffle is still ongoing. There is a long process in place for nominating the occupants of Chevening House and we will update in due course."

Pressed on whether both ministers had put in bids to use the residence, the official added: "I'm not going to get into discussions. We will conclude the reshuffle and then we will get into the longstanding processes, like residences."

The No 10 spokesman said there was not "one single post" that was entitled to use the Kent country house.

10:57 AM

Ed Davey right to say Boris Johnson plays to Tory 'mob', says Lib Dem MP

Boris Johnson has been 'whipping up anger', says one Lib Dem MP  - PA
Boris Johnson has been 'whipping up anger', says one Lib Dem MP - PA

A Liberal Democrat MP has defended comments made by his party leader, who suggested some Tory voters were part of a "mob".

Challenged over whether these remarks were comparable to Hillary Clinton's infamous "basket of deplorables" comment, Alistair Carmichael insisted they were very different.

He told Sky News it was a reflection of some of the rhetoric used by Boris Johnson, which he said was "very divisive" and involved "whipping up anger" towards minorities.

Mr Carmichael added: "That is a deplorable way of doing politics and Ed is right to call him out for doing that."

10:53 AM

Vaccine passports give 'false sense of security', says Lib Dem MP

The "biggest problem" with vaccine passports is they "risk sending a false sense of security, " a Liberal Democrats MP has said.

Alistair Carmichael, the home affairs spokesman, told Sky News his opposition to the measure was because they made people think "they are safer than they actually are", adding that it was important people stopped believing in a "silver bullet".

The focus should be on vaccinating as many people as possible and bolstering the test, trace and isolate system, he added.

Speaking ahead of the party conference, Mr Carmichael said the Lib Dems would said a "clear distinctive message, focusing on things that really matter", hitting out on the "psychodrama" that obsess the two main parties.

10:39 AM

In pictures: Culture Secretary goes casual for Cabinet

Nadine Dorries leaves Downing Street after her first Cabinet meeting - Reuters
Nadine Dorries leaves Downing Street after her first Cabinet meeting - Reuters

Lockdown has seen many a woman ditch their heels - and grumble about forcing their feet back into shoes as they return to the office.

But judging by her foot attire today, it seems Nadine Dorries is not for turning.

10:35 AM

Transport Secretary tells police to take 'swift action' on climate activist chaos

Grant Shapps has called on the police to take "swift action" after climate activists descended on the M25 for a third time this week.

The Transport Secretary argued such protests were dangerous and counter-productive.

10:29 AM

G7 Speakers' Conference to debate 'frightening' security threats

Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said he will looking to debate how countries can navigate the issue of "open parliament versus secure parliament" during today's G7 Speakers' Conference.

The Commons Speaker, who is hosting counterparts including the US' Nancy Pelosi, in his home seat of Chorley, Lancashire, said he wanted to learn from attacks on parliaments around the world including Capitol Hill, Westminster and Canada.

He told Sky News: "It is frightening, worrying and is something that does keep me awake at night."

The challenge was ensuring that "the public can quite rightly come to parliament and access their MPs", while keeping those who work on the estate safe.

The "effects of social media, the impact that has on MPs" was also on the agenda, he added, recalling how he learned about the murder of Jo Cox MP, saying that was something "I never want to hear again".

10:21 AM

Liz Truss’s Foreign Office move complicates leadership hopes

Liz Truss has been promoted - but is the role an elephant trap? - Reuters
Liz Truss has been promoted - but is the role an elephant trap? - Reuters

Allies of Liz Truss fear she has been moved to the Foreign Office by Boris Johnson to complicate her party leadership hopes, sending her overseas for much of the year.

One former adviser to Ms Truss told The Telegraph that the strategy amounted to “ship your enemies abroad” as her standing with Tory supporters booms.

Ms Truss had the highest approval rating of any member of the Cabinet among Tory members, according to an opinion poll last month for the Conservative Home website.

The move echoes Mr Johnson’s own political history, when Theresa May gave him the Foreign Office after the Brexit referendum, seeing him spend time away from Westminster.

Ben Riley-Smith, The Telegraph's political editor, has more on that story here.

10:16 AM

Choppers' Politics: I'd love to work in a Keir Starmer government, says Peter Mandelson

Peter Mandelson has said that he would be delighted to serve in a Keir Starmer government as he urged the Labour leader to do more to project his personality to win round voters.

Lord Mandelson, one of the architects of 'new' Labour, said that former prime minister Tony Blair was offering advice to Sir Keir and urged the Labour leader to be bolder about developing ideas on how to reshape the economy.

He said that Labour had to stop talking to itself and reach out to convince voters - particularly in Scotland - to give the party another chance.

The peer also urged Sir Keir to hold firm against calls for him to readmit former leader Jeremy Corbyn who had the whip suspended for saying that the scale of anti-Semitism under him in Labour had been overstated.

Listen to the interview in full above.

10:15 AM

More than 2,500 Covid deaths registered in England

A total of 2,542 deaths occurred in England up to September 12 of people who were either confirmed or likely to have had the Delta variant of Covid-19 and who died within 28 days of a positive test, according to new figures from Public Health England.

Of this number, 204 were under the age of 50 and 2,336 were aged 50 or over.

Of the 204 deaths of people under 50, 132 (65 per cent) were unvaccinated, 17 (eight per cent) had received one dose of vaccine and 48 (24 per cent) had received both doses.

Of the 2,336 deaths of people aged 50 or over, 590 (25 per cent) were unvaccinated, 149 (six per cent) had received one dose of vaccine and 1,565 (67 per cent) had received both doses.

A small number of virus samples could not be matched with vaccination records.

10:08 AM

Reshuffle: New solicitor general confirmed

Alex Chalk has been officially confirmed as the new solicitor general.

Taking over from Michael Ellis, who has been promoted to transport minister, Mr Chalk said: "I am looking forward to working with the Attorney General, Suella Braverman, to help build back better and safer from the pandemic and to continue the Government’s work in rebuilding confidence and trust in our criminal justice system.

“It is an honour to be joining this unique and historic government department which occupies a vital place at the heart of the UK constitution.”

09:51 AM

Jubilant Boris Johnson jokes about fatherhood as he tells ministers to focus on 'delivery'

A jubilant Boris Johnson has made a series of jokes about the number of children he has fathered, as he told his new Cabinet to focus on delivery.

The Prime Minister, who is expecting his second child with new wife Carrie, told ministers; "I'm just thinking about delivery ... I've seen a few delivery rooms, probably seen as many delivery rooms as anybody in this ... with the possible exception of Jacob [Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader]".

"I know that delivery normally involves a superhuman effort by at least one person in the room.

"But there are plenty of other people in that room who are absolutely indispensable to that successful outcome."

Mr Johnson's wife Carrie is pregnant with their second child.

09:27 AM

Climate protesters disrupt M25 for third time in a week

Climate protesters have disrupted the M25 for a third time in a week, with the group behind the demonstrations claiming many had just been released by police.

Insulate Britain said 79 people attempted to block the London orbital motorway hours after their release from police custody following similar protests on Wednesday.

Junctions three, at Swanley in Kent, nine, at Leatherhead in Surrey, and 28, near Brentwood in Essex, were targeted. Surrey Police said officers had arrested 14 people at junction nine.

The force said: "We were made aware of protesters at junction 9 of the M25 earlier this morning. 14 people have been arrested. We were also made aware shortly after 9am of protesters at junction 1 of the M3. We are on the scene and arrests are being made. Further updates to follow."

This is yet another big issue that Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is having to grapple with - read more about that here.

09:16 AM

Analysis: Lib Dems to park tanks on Tory lawns

In recent days, there is one opposition attack line that has been growing in confidence and resonance.

It is not coming from Labour, or the SNP, but rather the Liberal Democrats.

Alistair Carmichael, the party's home affairs spokesman, has received plenty of Tory backing for his lengthy and repeated attacks on vaccine passports in the Commons. With the party holding its conference from today, it seems likely we will hear more from him and his colleagues on this topic.

Having woken up to the possibility of stealing support from the more centrist Blue Wall seats, the Lib Dems could make a virtue of the fact that the SNP cannot criticise measures being adopted north of the border, while Labour is stuck in a rut of agreeing with pretty much every Covid measure coming out of Downing Street.

With just 12 MPs, it will be a long road before they trouble either of the main parties, but parking their tanks on Tory lawns makes for a good start.

09:03 AM

Awkward: Liz Truss and Dominic Raab were Cabinet tablemates

Dominic Raab was demoted this week after a lengthy meeting with the PM - AFP
Dominic Raab was demoted this week after a lengthy meeting with the PM - AFP

Dominic Raab sat next to his successor as Foreign Secretary during the first post-reshuffle Cabinet meeting this morning.

Mr Raab, who is now Justice Secretary and deputy prime minister, could be seen looking less than happy next to Liz Truss, as Boris Johnson told his ministers about the importance of working together.

It's not just their roles that is causing some tension: the pair are reportedly rowing over who has the claim to Chevening, according to The Times.

The grace and favour residence traditionally goes to the foreign secretary but was also used by Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister under David Cameron.

08:59 AM

Michael Gove to drive through planning reforms under turbo-charged new role

Michael Gove will drive through planning reforms under his turbo-charged new role, after his predecessor was forced to water-down proposals.

The new Housing Secretary - whose job title is expected to be beefed up to reflect the Union and levelling up briefs he also carries - will revise legislation to ensure planning reforms meet the commitment made in the Conservative manifesto in 2019.

Robert Jenrick, who lost his Cabinet job this week, had been due to bring forward legislation next week that would have abandoned key proposals, following a backlash from Tory MPs and voters in the south. One source told The Telegraph this was "what did for him".

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, told Sky News that Mr Gove had a "formidable intellect, very good at problem-solving, very good at getting to grip with detail quickly", and noted that planning would be a priority.

"We want to make sure we build aesthetically-pleasing housing and not the identikit things we have got used to," he added. "So he will take those reforms forward. He also retains the brief for the wider UK, that is a passion for him."

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is expected to be rebranded to illustrate the breadth of responsibilities. Neil O'Brien, a one-time planning rebel and former levelling up tsar, was yesterday made a minister in the same department.

08:39 AM

Fraser Nelson: The end of Michael Gove - or the moment he redefines Toryism forever

He may never have held a great office of state, but Michael Gove has been one of the most influential Tory figures in recent years, writes Fraser Nelson.

His reforms transformed schools, narrowing the gap between state and private. That gap was then blown open again by the lockdowns he advocated as Cabinet Office minister – damage that’s repairable, he’d argue, in a way that Covid deaths are not. Without him, the Brexit referendum might well have gone the other way. A great many people have Gove to thank (or blame) for the political world as it looks now.

Boris Johnson’s decision to make him housing secretary certainly looks like a sadistic demotion. The much-hyped Planning Bill has been halted and the agenda is in chaos: this is the mess which Gove now walks into.

But if he makes a success of it, and turns “levelling up” from a slogan into an agenda, he’ll have achieved something the Prime Minister has so far failed to do.

Read more from Fraser here.

08:29 AM

Boris Johnson urges Cabinet to work 'as a team' in half-time 'pep talk'

Newly-demoted Dominic Raab gives a thumbs up on his way to the first post-reshuffle Cabinet meeting - Reuters
Newly-demoted Dominic Raab gives a thumbs up on his way to the first post-reshuffle Cabinet meeting - Reuters

Boris Johnson has told his overhauled Cabinet to pull together and work as a team during a "half-time pep talk".

The Prime Minister told his first meeting of the new Cabinet: "This is, if you like, the half-time pep talk. This is the moment when we spit out the orange peel, we adjust our gum shields and our scrum caps.

"And we get out on to the pitch in the knowledge that we're going to have to do it together and we're going to have to do it as a team."

08:19 AM

Repeated TB tests risked 'false negative' for Geronimo, claims Environment Secretary

Environment Secretary George Eustice defended the decision to euthanise Geronimo the alpaca, saying there was a danger of a "false negative" emerging if vets continued to test the animal for bovine tuberculosis.

He told LBC radio: "These cases are always difficult, and I had looked at the Geronimo case three years ago, and a couple of other times since, actually. But the truth is he had tested positive for bovine TB using a test called the Emperplex test, which very rarely has false positives.

"The owner at that point said she was unsure about the result, would we give her a second test. We don't really do that, but the vets, to do her a favour, said 'OK, we'll give you a second test'.

"That also came back positive, so she said 'Well, now I want a third test', and at that point the danger of just relentlessly testing is you will at some point get what is called a false negative, and that is that it will tell you it is clear when it is not.

"Difficult though it is, and I know she was very attached to Geronimo, we do have to maintain consistency in our fight against TB, and at post-mortem they did find TB-like lesions."

08:16 AM

Geronimo had 'TB-like lesions' but it may never be confirmed, admits minister

Helen Macdonald (left), owner of Geronimo, has always insisted that the alpaca did not have TB - PA
Helen Macdonald (left), owner of Geronimo, has always insisted that the alpaca did not have TB - PA

George Eustice has admitted the results from the post-mortem examination on Geronimo the alpaca are inconclusive - and it may never been known whether he had TB.

The Environment Secretary told LBC: "Yes. So we had the post-mortem done, those results were shared with her [owner, Helen Macdonald]. It showed (the animal) had what is called atypical lesions, TB-like lesions, I think in the liver and in the lymph as well.

"Not in the lungs, and I think on that basis she has claimed he didn't have TB, but there were TB-like lesions.

"What we will now do is see whether we can culture TB from that, as we normally would in such cases so we can identify what strain of bovine TB it is," he added. "You don't always get a successful culture but it is certainly something they will be trying over the next few months."

08:05 AM

In pictures: Cabinet ministers arrive for first post-reshuffle meeting

Newly appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arriving in Downing Street - PA
Newly appointed Foreign Secretary Liz Truss arriving in Downing Street - PA

Liz Truss will take her new seat at the Cabinet table today, as the newly-anointed Foreign Secretary, while Dominic Raab moves down a few places as Justice Secretary.

Nadhim Zahawi to join Cabinet for the first time - Reuters
Nadhim Zahawi to join Cabinet for the first time - Reuters

Meanwhile Nadhim Zahawi will join the Cabinet for the first time, having been promoted from vaccines minister to Education Secretary.

07:56 AM

Rishi Sunak eyes new fiscal rules for next month's Budget

Rishi Sunak suspended the fiscal rules at the start of the pandemic - Reuters
Rishi Sunak suspended the fiscal rules at the start of the pandemic - Reuters

Rishi Sunak is planning to impose new fiscal rules at next month's Budget, in a bid to head off concerns that future interest rate rises could undermine his bid to get public finances back under control.

The Chancellor's new rules will commit him to stop borrowing to fund day-to-day spending within three years, the FT reports this morning.

The paper also reports that the new fiscal rules will also require underlying debt to start falling by 2024-25; it currently stands at about 100 per cent of gross domestic product.

The Treasury’s previous fiscal rules were suspended during the pandemic. Sunak said in his March Budget that he intended to set out “new fiscal rules later in the year, providing economic uncertainty recedes further”.

07:51 AM

Labour has been 'calling for ages' to scrap amber list

Labour has been "calling for ages" for ministers to scrap the amber travel list because it is poorly understood by the public, a shadow frontbencher has said.

Sarah Jones told Sky News people have been " confused about what the rules are, they have been paying extortionate prices", as she reiterated her call for a simpler system.

The shadow policing minister added: "We want travel to open up as safely and as quickly as possible. We've been calling for ages for the amber list to be scrapped, which has been touted in the papers today, because it always added to confusion - people never quite understood what the system was.

"And we've been calling for a proper process to work out an international vaccine passport so we can get people safely moving around."

07:42 AM

Analysis: Reformer-in-chief to grasp the planning nettle

Michael Gove is generally seen in Westminster as the person you give the difficult jobs to, with a track record of reforms stretching across virtually all of the departments he has worked in.

So handing him the job of planning reform - until now a poisoned chalice - makes perfect sense for Boris Johnson. With Neil O'Brien as poacher-turned gamekeeper, it seems likely that some of the mistakes of the past will be avoided, while his work as levelling up tsar should ensure that reforms will help meet the PM's most vital pledge to the electorate.

Yet, while it made sense for Mr Johnson, the move initially appeared to be a demotion for his one-time Brexit buddy, with suggestions that he was paying the price for having overreached at the Cabinet Office.

But if, as seems likely, the Housing and Communities Secretary gets a shiny new job title, the alacrity with which he greeted the new job will be a mystery no more.

07:32 AM

MPs told to be 'ready for an election', minister confirms

Conservative MPs have been told to "be ready for an election" by newly-promoted chairman Oliver Dowden, a minister has confirmed.

Yesterday, The Telegraph revealed that Mr Dowden had told backbenchers the country could go to the polls as early as May 2023, shortly after being handed his new role.

Asked whether he had put the party on an "election footing", George Eustice said: "I think what Oliver Dowden said is that we should be ready for an election whenever it might come. That is what every party chairman will always do. Their task is to make sure the party is ready.

"But, for Cabinet as a whole, our priority is to deliver," the Environment Secretary added.

"We've still got several years left of this Parliament and we've got a lot that we want to achieve. There are going to be a lot of challenges that need addressing post this pandemic - that is going to be our absolute focus."

07:23 AM

Vaccine-evading variant will lead to 'full lockdown', minister admits

George Eustice has given the clearest indication that a "full lockdown" could be reimposed, telling Sky New this would happen if a new variant emerged.

Thus far, ministers have avoided committing to such an outcome, preferring to talk vaguely about restrictions that would only be used as a "last resort".

Asked about the challenges faced by the travel industry, the Environment Secretary said: "The bigger threat to travel industry is that we do get another variant that manages to get around the vaccine

"Then we are in another full lockdown and that’s not what we want, that is why we have taken his cautiously, step by step."

07:21 AM

Report lays bare regional differences in dealing with violence against women

Police forces must "learn" from each other to improve their approach to dealing with violence against women, a Cabinet minister has said.

A root-and-branch examination by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services found "problems, unevenness and inconsistencies" in dealing with the "epidemic" of violence against female victims in the UK.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, told Sky News the report "does highlight some differences between police forces".

He added: "What we really need to do is learn from those police forces that are addressing this well - and I think the report highlights that some of them are doing far better than others - and actually try and replicate those approaches that work in parts of the country."

07:19 AM

Cabinet to sign off travel changes today, says minister

A Cabinet sub-committee meeting due to take place today could sign off on travel rule changes, the Environment Secretary has confirmed.

The green and amber lists are expected to be merged to form one category of low-risk countries while the number of destinations on the red list will be reduced. It is also thought that fully-vaccinated arrivals will no longer need to take a pre-departure lateral flow test or a post-arrival PCR test.

George Eustice told Sky News: "My understanding is that no decisions have actually been taken yet, although I understand there may be a meeting today to review this. We regularly review those travel restrictions...

"I know this has been raised by the travel industry, that they think some of that testing may be unnecessary, may be onerous - the Government will be listening to that and the Covid sub-committee of Cabinet that decide these things will be considering that probably later today."

07:06 AM

Priti Patel orders police to get tough on climate activists

Priti Patel has told police to take “decisive action” against climate change activists as video footage emerged showing officers facilitating the motorway protests that caused major traffic disruption.

The Home Secretary condemned as “completely unacceptable” the traffic chaos caused by the guerilla tactics of Insulate Britain, a splinter group of Extinction Rebellion, which blocked off motorway junctions at rush hour twice this week.

The protests on Wednesday morning led to questions over why police failed to remove the activists from the road sooner.

07:06 AM

Good Morning

It's straight to work after Boris Johnson's reshuffle, with a Cabinet meeting due to take place this morning, underscoring the urgency of many new portfolios.

Here is today's front page - outlining just one of many of the ministers' key responsibilities.

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