Rishi Sunak news latest: Jacob Rees-Mogg criticised for ‘dangerous’ abortion ‘cult of death’ comments

Jacob Rees-Mogg has been criticised by MPs and campaigners after attacking abortion rights and calling the process of abortion a ‘cult of death’.

The Senior Tory MP said abortion was a ‘modern tragedy’ and wrong even in cases of incest and rape.

Activists have called his comments “dangerous” and “grotesque”, as MP Stella Creasy says his words show why abortion rights need to be better protected in the UK.

It comes as David Miliband has hinted that he could make a dramatic bid to return to parliament as he said the UK’s reputation has been “shredded” after Brexit.

The former Labour cabinet minister called for closer ties with the EU as he said: “We’ve lost European cooperation because of Brexit – we’ve got to build it back.”

But Mr Miliband declined to criticise Sir Keir’s approach to Brexit after the Labour leader vowed not to cross the “red line” of bringing back freedom of movement with the EU.

“In respect of Europe, it seems to me what he’s trying to do is make sure he doesn’t get cornered by his political opponents, which is completely understandable,” said Mr Miliband.

The senior figure – who quit as an MP in 2013 – also refused to rule out the idea of returning to the Commons when pushed on the matter by LBC presenter Andrew Marr.

“That’s not been decided yet. That’s not done,” said Mr Miliband, after he was asked if he could stand at the next general election.

Key points

  • David Miliband hints he could stand for Labour at general election

  • UK’s reputation has been ‘shredded’ internationally, says David Miliband

  • Home Office looking at asylum ‘safe’ list to combat Channel crisis

  • ‘Golden era’ of ties with China over, says Sunak

  • Don’t forget Ukraine’s ‘tragedy’ this Christmas, says first lady

What is the Online Safety Bill and why is it so controversial?

Tuesday 29 November 2022 19:45 , Lucy Skoulding

Hailed as groundbreaking regulation of the tech sector, the central aim of the Online Safety Bill is to introduce rules to social media and other user-generated content-based sites that compel them to remove illegal material from their platforms, with a particular emphasis on protecting children from seeing harmful content.

Firms that break these rules would face large fines from the sector’s new regulator, Ofcom.

The Bill has been at the centre of a debate over free speech, censorship, and the necessity to police harmful content on the internet.

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This has focused on the so-called “legal but harmful” duties that were in the Bill, which would have required the biggest platforms to ensure their users, and in particular children, are not exposed to harmful content, even if it was not illegal.

Some politicians and online safety campaigners have repeatedly called for more to be done to protect children from the swathes of harmful content online – including having the Online Safety Bill go further.

But on the other side, some MPs – including a number of senior Tories – and free speech campaigners have warned the Bill could be used as a tool for online censorship, incentivising or even forcing sites to take down legal speech simply because it offends some people.

Read more.

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Tuesday 29 November 2022 19:27 , Lucy Skoulding

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Check back on The Independent for more political coverage.

More than 40% of British exports have disappeared from European shelves since Brexit

Tuesday 29 November 2022 18:00 , Lucy Skoulding

More than 40 per cent of British products previously exported to the EU have disappeared from European shelves since Brexit, new figures show.

Trade economists trying to assess the effects of Brexit warned in research published on Monday that new bureaucracy was putting off exporters on a grand scale.

They also said their research showed the export gap created by the policy has “widened rather than closed” in a year of the new trade system being in place.

The researchers, from the Centre for Business Prosperity at Aston University, found that small businesses were the least likely to be able to deal with the government’s new red tape and would be most likely to give up selling abroad.

Read the full story here.

Nature groups complain to environment watchdog over delayed targets on clean air and water

Tuesday 29 November 2022 17:30 , Lucy Skoulding

Ministers have been reported to England’s new environment watchdog for failing to meet a deadline to set new targets for clean air and water.

Campaigners including the National Trust, the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts and Asthma & Lung UK submitted a complaint to the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) on Tuesday after raising the issue with the government earlier this month.

The complaint comes ahead of the UN’s biodiversity conference in Canada next month

Therese Coffey, the environment secretary, acknowledged last month that her department was going to miss the 31 October legal deadline to publish new targets to clean up air and water, and to stop the decline of wildlife.

But she said it would “continue to work at pace” and lay the targets before parliament “as soon as practicable.”

Read the full story here.

Ministers have been reported to England’s new environment watchdog for failing to meet a deadline to set new targets for clean air and water (Russell Savory/Spains Hall Estate/PA) (PA Media)
Ministers have been reported to England’s new environment watchdog for failing to meet a deadline to set new targets for clean air and water (Russell Savory/Spains Hall Estate/PA) (PA Media)

Jacob Rees-Mogg admitted profiting from sale of abortion pills after attacking abortion rights

Tuesday 29 November 2022 17:00 , Lucy Skoulding

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg – who has been criticised by campaigners after calling abortion a “death cult” – previously admitted that his investment firm profited from pills used in abortions.

The ex-cabinet minister was accused of hypocrisy over his attack on abortion rights, following Somerset Capital Management’s £5m investment in an Indonesian company called Kalbe Farma.

Kalbe Farme produced pills used to treat stomach ulcers, but were reportedly also used by some in Indonesia to trigger abortions when news of the investment emerged in 2017.

Read the full story.

UK Foreign Office minister summons Chinese ambassador over BBC journalist arrest

Tuesday 29 November 2022 16:31 , Lucy Skoulding

China’s ambassador to the UK has been summoned to the Foreign Office after a BBC journalist was allegedly kicked and beaten by Chinese police while covering anti-lockdown protests.

The department has called on Zheng Zeguang for a “full and thorough explanation” of the detention of Edward Lawrence.

Chinese officials have claimed that Mr Lawrence “didn’t voluntarily present” his press credentials.

The broadcaster said that police claimed Mr Lawrence was arrested in case he caught Covid from the crowd.

Watch Ukraine’s first lady address Commons on sexual violence during war

Tuesday 29 November 2022 15:45 , Lucy Skoulding

Tuesday 29 November 2022 15:18 , Lucy Skoulding

A “member of the government” briefed false negative stories about Martin Lewis to a newspaper during this summer’s Tory leadership campaign, the money saving expert has claimed.

Appearing at a parliamentary committee on Tuesday Mr Lewis said an individual supporting one of the campaigns had been “casting aspersions and making defamatory comments” about him.

During the period Mr Lewis, a champion of consumer rights, had been outspoken about the need for additional help on energy bills.

In late August he had said that existing support pledged by the government would be swallowed by a bill rise in October and that bills would become “mathematically unaffordable” for many.

A “member of the government” briefed false negative stories about Martin Lewis (PA) (PA Archive)
A “member of the government” briefed false negative stories about Martin Lewis (PA) (PA Archive)

Mr Lewis said: “I was informed that somebody recently was casting aspersions and making defamatory comments about me. I was informed by a newspaper.”

Noting that the claims were without foundation, he said: “In the end, the story wasn’t printed because the news agenda moved on.

“The motive of this one was pretty clear, because they they thought that what I was saying was not in the interest of the person they were promoting for a leadership campaign.”

Read the full story.

Rishi Sunak turns on Christmas lights at Downing Street

Tuesday 29 November 2022 15:15 , Lucy Skoulding

A new video shows the prime minister turning on the Christmas lights at Downing Street.

Rishi Sunak thanks people for joining him on Downing Street in London for the “annual Christmas tradition” of turning on the lights.

He appears outside 10 Downing Street with his wife, Akshata, and gives a short speech.

The prime minister then starts the countdown from five before switching on the Christmas lights on the tree.

Free speech advocates have ‘won out’, say ex-culture minister

Tuesday 29 November 2022 14:50 , Lucy Skoulding

Former Tory culture minister Dame Caroline Dineage said she was disappointed by the decision to scrap the “legal but harmful” duties on content for adults in the Online Safety Bill.

Dineage told BBC Radio 4’s World At One that she was saddened to see freedom of speech advocates had “kind of won out”, but said there was consensus that Bill must be passed before the spring in “one form or another”.

It comes the father of Molly Russell, 14-year-old who killed herself after viewing self-harm content online, said the changes to the bill were “very hard to understand”.

Ian Russell told the BBC Radio: “I think the most harmful content to [Molly] was content that could be described as legal but harmful … I don’t see how you can see the removal of a whole clause as anything other than a watering down.”

Rees-Mogg criticised for ‘grotesque’ labelling of abortion rights as ‘cult of death'

Tuesday 29 November 2022 14:21 , Lucy Skoulding

MPs and campaigners have reacted with horror after Jacob Rees-Mogg launched an attack on abortion rights calling the process a “cult of death”.

The senior Tory MP said he did not agree with the right to abortion even in cases of incest and rape.

Activists have spoken out, calling his comments “dangerous” and “grotestque”.

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate on a petition for abortion to be included in a new Bill of Rights, Mr Rees-Mogg said the number of abortions was a “modern tragedy”.

“I do not believe that we should say that a new life should be destroyed. I do not believe that that is the right of the state,” said the former business secretary.

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MP Stella Creasy said Rees-Mogg’s views showed why abortion rights had to be better protected in UK law.

She said: “Women deserve equal rights. Whoever is in government.”

“If you think we don’t need to codify in law that women have a human right to choose to have an abortion, Jacob Rees-Mogg just argued against women who are victims of rape or incest having a right to have one,” the MP tweeted.

Read the full story on The Independent

Rishi Sunak urged to ‘shame’ oil giants avoiding windfall tax

Tuesday 29 November 2022 13:45

Rishi Sunak is facing a Commons push to “name and shame” any oil and gas companies who are avoiding the windfall tax on profits and publish the precise sums collected by the government.

Oil giant Shell revealed in October that it had so far avoided paying anything under the energy profits levy because it had claimed tax relief using an investment “loophole”.

Despite tightening the rules around the “investment allowance” at the autumn Budget, the prime minister has been urged to reveal the exact amounts that fossil fuel firms pay under the windfall tax.

The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to the finance bill that would force the government to publish quarterly figures – including the amounts saved under the investment allowance.

“The sums raised from the government’s so-called windfall tax are an embarrassingly small fraction of the recent oil and gas profits,” the Lib Dems’ Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney told The Independent.

“The news of Shell avoiding this tax is a slap in the face for struggling families and pensioners,” she said. “It’s clear the government is putting business before people.”

Read the full story here.

MP says revised online safety bill will still block harmful content

Tuesday 29 November 2022 13:15 , Lucy Skoulding

Culture secretary Michelle Donelan has spoken out on changes made to the online safety bill.

She said she’s taken out the “legaly but harmful” provisions from the bill.

“It had [a] very, very concerning impact, potentially, on free speech,” Ms Donelan said.

“There were unintended consequences associated with it. It was really the anchor that was preventing this bill from getting off the ground.

“It was a creation of a quasi-legal category between illegal and legal. That’s not what a government should be doing. It’s confusing. It would create a different kind of set of rules online to offline in the legal sphere.”

Ian Russell, father of Molly Russell who died from an act of self-harm, has criticised the bill, worried it hasn’t gone far enough.

An inquest found that 14-year-old Molly died from self-harm while she was suffering from depression and the negative impacts of social media and online content. The inquest found social media contributed “more than minimally” to Molly’s death after she viewed images of self-harm and suicide.

But Ms Donelan said content like what Molly saw would still be removed under changes to the bill.

She added that the bill will become the law before the end of the current parliamentary session, which is spring 2023.

Sunak says ‘innovation’ should be focus for government

Tuesday 29 November 2022 12:43 , Lucy Skoulding

Rishi Sunak reportedly gave a lecture to his cabinet on the importance of innovation, according to the prime minister’s spokesperson.

The spokesperson said: “[Sunak] said innovation permeates every part of people’s lives and has the power to further transform our public services.

“He said innovation accounts for around half of the UK’s growth and should be driving practical ideas such as elective surgery hubs, which are speeding up the number of people receiving operations in the NHS.”

The new prime minister wants innovation to be a “defining focus” of government.

Rishi Sunak has emphasised the importance of innovation to his cabinet (via REUTERS)
Rishi Sunak has emphasised the importance of innovation to his cabinet (via REUTERS)

MPs visit Taiwan amid UK’s strained relationship with China

Tuesday 29 November 2022 12:05 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

MPs on a prominent Commons committee are visiting Taiwan from Tuesday and will meet dignitaries over the next few days amid strained UK relations with China.

The Foreign Affairs Committee said its members will be on the island, which China claims as its territory, until Saturday.

It follows heightened tensions between the West and Beijing over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the island in August.

The Committee will meet President Tsai Ing-Wen, the Secretary-General of the National Security Council, Wellington Koo, and Premier and President of the Executive Yuan, Su Tseng-chang during the trip.

Matt Hancock to return to parliament this week as finalist of ‘I’m a Celeb’

Tuesday 29 November 2022 11:33 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Matt Hancock will come face-to-face with angry MPs in Parliament this week for the first time since his controversial jungle jaunt as he returns to Westminster for the second reading of his Dyslexia Bill.

The Tory MP is facing questions over his political future following his third-place finish on ITV’s I’m A Celeb, with his stint down under drawing criticism from colleagues including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Speculation has been mounting over whether he will have the Conservative whip restored and seek to run again at the next election.

He has “no intention of standing down or stepping away from politics”, according to his team.

The former health secretary will attend the second reading of his Dyslexia Screening and Teacher Training Bill in the Commons on Friday. He is also expected to spend time in his constituency this week.

A spokesman for Mr Hancock said: “The second reading of Matt’s Dyslexia Screening and Teacher Training Bill is in Parliament on Friday December 2 - just days after the final of I’m A Celebrity.

“By going on the show, Matt has raised the profile of his dyslexia campaign and has used the platform to talk about an issue he really cares about in front of millions of people.

“Matt is determined that no child should leave primary school not knowing if they have dyslexia.

“Matt will be making a donation to St Nicholas Hospice in Suffolk and causes supporting dyslexia - including the British Dyslexia Association, off the back of his appearance.”

 (PA)
(PA)

UK summons Chinese ambassador over beating of BBC journalist in Shanghai protests

Tuesday 29 November 2022 11:13 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

China’s ambassador to the UK has been summoned to the foreign office amid a diplomatic row over the arrest and alleged beating of a BBC journalist covering Covid protests in Shanghai, according to a UK government source.

Zheng Zeguang has been called by foreign secretary James Cleverly over the treatment of cameraman Edward Lawrence, who the BBC said was “beaten and kicked” by police in the Chinese city.

A source from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “The Chinese ambassador has been called to the FCDO.

“The BBC has been clear one of their journalists was detained and beaten by police when covering these protests.

“We have made it clear this behaviour by the Chinese authorities is completely unacceptable.”

Mr Cleverly on Monday described the incident as “deeply disturbing”, while No 10 condemned the “shocking and unacceptable” arrest and said journalists “must be able to do their jobs without fear of intimidation”.

Downing Street urged Chinese authorities to “respect those who decide to express their views about the current situation”, as citizens take to the streets to oppose the country’s draconian zero-Covid policy.

The BBC said Mr Lawrence was “arrested and handcuffed” while covering the protests in Shanghai.

“During his arrest he was beaten and kicked by police,” the broadcaster said. “This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist.”

China’s foreign ministry has reportedly contested the BBC statement, claiming Mr Lawrence did not identify himself as a journalist.

UK’s reputation has been ‘shredded’ internationally, says David Miliband

Tuesday 29 November 2022 10:56 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Former Labour cabinet minister David Miliband told LBC that the UK’s reputation has been “shredded” on the international stage.

Watch the full clip here:

Martin Lewis shares 4 tips for keeping warm without having to put the heating on

Tuesday 29 November 2022 10:40 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Martin Lewis has shared his helpful tips for staying warm this winter without having to resort to putting the heating on.

The Money Saving Expert’s comments come as nine out of 10 UK adults report that their living costs have increased in the last three months due to rising energy bills and food prices.

In an episode of his ITV programme from November, The Martin Lewis Money Show, Lewis said his team had carried out research on ways to “heat the human and not the home”.

Read more from Saman Javed:

Martin Lewis shares 4 tips for keeping warm without using the heating

White population of England and Wales shrinks in past decade, census data reveals

Tuesday 29 November 2022 10:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

A total of 81.7 per cent of residents in England and Wales identified their ethnic group as white on the day of the 2021 census, down from 86.0 per cent a decade earlier, the Office for National Statistics said.

The second most common ethnic group was “Asian, Asian British or Asian Welsh” at 9.3 per cent, up from 7.5 per cent in 2011.

Around one in 10 households (2.5 million) contained members from at least two different ethnic groups last year, compared with 8.7 per cent in 2011, the ONS said.

Census deputy director Jon Wroth-Smith said: “Today’s data highlights the increasingly multi-cultural society we live in.”

Our race correspondent Nadine White has more:

White population of England and Wales shrinks in past decade, census data reveals

Royal Mail strike: Every date in November and December 2022

Tuesday 29 November 2022 10:16 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Royal Mail workers will stage strikes this month and next in an escalating row over pay, jobs and conditions.

The Communications Workers Union (CWU) formally notified Royal Mail of the November strikes last month and confirmed six new strike dates in December on November 17.

The postal service apologised to customers, saying that though it “well-developed contingency plans” it is unable to “fully replace the daily efforts of our frontline workforce”.

“We’ll be doing what we can to keep services running, but we are sorry this planned strike action is likely to cause you some disruption,” the company said on the website.

Here’s everything you need to know about strikes by Royal Mail staff:

What are the dates for Royal Mail postal strikes?

Transport secretary hails ‘constructive’ meeting over rail dispute

Tuesday 29 November 2022 09:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The Transport Secretary has made it clear his role is to “facilitate and support” a deal in the long-running rail dispute rather than get involved in negotiations.

Mark Harper wrote to the leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) following a meeting last week which the minister described as “constructive and positive”.

He wrote: “We both agree the industrial dispute on the railways has gone on too long.

“It’s bad for your members, losing out on pay and overtime, bad for businesses who depend on trains to bring them goods and customers and bad for people across our country who depend on the railways.

“Worse, disruption pushes more and more people away from using the railways, some of whom will never come back.

“We both want a long-term sustainable railway that provides both great service and rewarding jobs.

“Every day’s industrial action makes that harder to deliver.”

Gove will make announcement on onshore wind, says minister

Tuesday 29 November 2022 09:33 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Culture secretary Michelle Donelan has said she expects Michael Gove to make an announcement on onshore wind plans in the coming days.

She said the government is “listening” to rebel Tory MPs who have backed an amendment in support of the onshore wind following Rishi Sunak’s dee facto ban on new developments.

Ms Donelan said “tweaks” are sometimes made to bills. “The government is listening to colleagues around this amendment and I’m sure that there will be some announcements made by the levelling up secretary in the days to come,” she told GB News.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Michelle Donelan (PA Wire)
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Michelle Donelan (PA Wire)

David Miliband hints he could stand for Labour at general election

Tuesday 29 November 2022 09:17 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Former Labour cabinet minister David Miliband has hinted that he could make a dramatic bid to return to parliament.

The ex-foreign secretary, defeated by his brother Ed Miliband for the Labour leadership in 2010, said a comeback had “not been decided yet”.

The senior figure – who quit as an MP in 2013 – refused to rule out the idea of returning to the Commons when pushed on the matter by LBC presenter Andrew Marr.

“That’s not been decided yet. That’s not done,” said Mr Miliband, after he was asked if he could stand at the next general election.

Adam Forrest reports:

David Miliband hints he could stand for Labour at general election

Over 40% of British exports have disappeared from European shelves since Brexit

Tuesday 29 November 2022 08:55 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Over 40 per cent of British products previously exported to the EU have disappeared from European shelves since Brexit, “bleak” new figures show.

Trade economists trying to quantify the effects of Brexit warned in research published on Monday that new bureaucracy was putting off exporters on a grand scale.

And they said their research shows the export gap created by the policy has “widened rather than closed” in over a year of the new trade system being in effect.

The researchers, from the Centre for Business Prosperity at Aston University found that small businesses were the least likely to be able to deal with the government’s new red tape and to be most likely to simply give up selling abroad.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has more:

Over 40% of British exports have disappeared from European shelves since Brexit

Protection of children strengthened in bill, insists culture secretary

Tuesday 29 November 2022 08:38 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Culture secretary Michelle Donelan defended the decision to drop the “legal but harmful” duties from the bill – saying it was “confusing” and “could have stifled free speech”.

But she insisted that protections for children have been strengthened. Ms Donelan told Times Radio that she said the government was “in essence” introducing “legal but harmful for children” through other provisions in the bill.

The culture secretary claimed that the rest of the world is “watching and wating” for the UK to deliver its new online safety legislation, with politicians overseas keen to use it as a “blueprint” for their own“I’ve spoken to many ministers and counterparts across the globe who have said that they are interested in using our legislation as the blueprint for their own,” she told GB News.

“It’s been a long time coming. The writing is on the wall now.”

Culture secretary says China is a ‘massive global player’ that UK needs to engage with

Tuesday 29 November 2022 08:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said it is important to remember China is a “massive global player” that the UK need to engage with.

When asked if the UK views China as a challenge or a threat, she told Sky News: “I think we can get a little bit hung up on the semantics here, but what (Rishi Sunak) said last night was it does present strategic challenges, and he’s talked about the fact that we’ve got to have our eyes open.

“We can’t forget the fact, or underestimate the fact, that they’re a massive global player and that we do need to engage with them. But at the same time, we’ve got to do that, as I say, with our eyes open. They do present strategic challenges.”

Home Office looking at asylum ‘safe’ list to combat Channel crisis

Tuesday 29 November 2022 07:59 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Rishi Sunak’s government is considering plans to fast-track the removal of asylum seekers from designated “safe” countries in an effort to tackle small boats crossings, it has been reported.

Home secretary Suella Braverman is said to want to revive a New Labour government policy which would see a “white list” of countries deemed to be safe by the Home Office.

Asylum claims of citizens from those countries would largely be regarded as unfounded, unless they are able to provide contrasting evidence – with no right of appeal, according to The Times.

Politics writer Adam Forrest has more:

Suella Braverman wants ‘safe country list to remove asylum seekers’

Government ditches ‘legal but harmful’ duties in Online Safety Bill

Tuesday 29 November 2022 07:41 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The government ditched the “legal but harmful” duties in the Online Safety Bill because they would have created a “quasi-legal category”, the Culture Secretary has said.

Michelle Donelan told Sky News: “It had (a) very, very concerning impact, potentially, on free speech.

“There were unintended consequences associated with it. It was really the anchor that was preventing this Bill from getting off the ground.

“It was a creation of a quasi-legal category between illegal and legal. That’s not what a government should be doing. It’s confusing. It would create a different kind of set of rules online to offline in the legal sphere.”

World is ‘watching and waiting’ for UK to deliver new Online Safety Bill

Tuesday 29 November 2022 07:30 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The rest of the world is “watching and wating” for the UK to deliver its new online safety legislation, with politicians overseas keen to use it as a “blueprint” for their own, the culture secretary has said.

Michelle Donelan said many tech companies may be international, but they will have to face the “ramifications” of British law if they fall foul of the new rules.

She told GB News: “We’re certainly not working in isolation. In fact, the rest of the world is watching and waiting for us to do this legislation.

“I’ve spoken to many ministers and counterparts across the globe who have said that they are interested in using our legislation as the blueprint for their own.

“And when it comes to these corporations, yes, they’re international, the vast majority of them have huge footprints in the UK, they hire a lot of people, but they will have to face the ramifications of British law, they will be subject to these fines if they fail the legislation.

“And they certainly know this Bill is coming. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve had many conversations with them, so have my predecessors. The writing is on the wall now.”

Labour criticised for ditching commitment to start Black wing of party

Tuesday 29 November 2022 07:20 , Namita Singh

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

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

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

Our race correspondent Nadine White has more in this exclusive:

Labour criticised for ditching commitment to start Black wing of party

Rishi Sunak hints at U-turn over onshore wind farm ban

Tuesday 29 November 2022 07:05 , Namita Singh

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

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

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

Read the details in this joint report from Andrew Woodcock and Saphora Smith:

Rishi Sunak hints at U-turn over onshore wind farm ban

Rail industry warning over ‘spiral of decline’

Tuesday 29 November 2022 06:57 , Namita Singh

A failure to attract more customers to the railway risks a permanently smaller network, an industry body has warned.

Rail Partners, which represents independent passenger and freight train operators, published a report urging the government to take urgent action to “avoid a spiral of decline”.

It wants operators to be given more influence on key issues such as timetabling, marketing and fares.

Read more in this report:

Rail industry warning over ‘spiral of decline’

Tony Blair praises Matt Hancock for ‘courageous’ decision to appear on ‘I’m a Celebrity’

Tuesday 29 November 2022 06:50 , Namita Singh

Sir Tony Blair has praised former Tory health secretary Matt Hancock for his “courage” in taking the controversial decision to spend three weeks in the Australian jungle filming ITV’s I’m A Celebrity while a remaining a sitting MP.

Voting by the British public saw Mr Hancock take third place in the reality TV show – but he now returns to Westminster to face angry colleagues and constituents, having been publicly rebuked by prime minister Rishi Sunak and stripped of the Tory whip for taking part.

The pandemic-era minister resigned after being caught breaking his own health guidance during a romantic affair with an aide, and caused consternation among the hundreds of thousands left bereaved by Covid-19 with his decision to enter the jungle as a “celebrity” contestant the following year.

My colleague Andy Gregory reports:

Tony Blair praises Matt Hancock for ‘courageous’ decision over ‘I’m a Celebrity’

Failure to adapt to climate change poses ‘significant and growing risks’ to UK

Tuesday 29 November 2022 06:42 , Namita Singh

A failure to adapt to the impact of climate change will threaten the UK’s economy, health and countryside, the head of the Environment Agency is warning.

The government agency’s chief executive, Sir James Bevan, will use a speech to the Institute for Government to warn that the longer action is delayed on adaptation, the bigger the bill that will be handed to our children.

"This is not what the next generation need on top of the rising cost of living," he will warn.

Vehicles negotiate a flooded section of the A1 road on 2 November 2022 in London, England (Getty Images)
Vehicles negotiate a flooded section of the A1 road on 2 November 2022 in London, England (Getty Images)

Measures to adapt to the changing climate range from flood defences to protect against the increased risk of flooding, to planting trees to keep cities cooler in the face of heatwaves, and developing more heat-resistant crops.

But Sir James will warn that while a focus on tackling climate change has helped drive progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to its impact has been the "Cinderella" of climate action, and efforts have been too slow.

He will highlight concerns that the UK has so far failed to adapt much of its critical infrastructure to the climate emergency, threatening the country’s security and prosperity.

He will also say that while the UK government has a leading role to play in adaptation, the private sector will also need to invest in making the UK more resilient to rising temperatures.

Give workers right to request four-day week with no pay cut, unions and MPs say

Tuesday 29 November 2022 06:35 , Namita Singh

The government should give workers the legal right to request a four-day working week from their employers with no loss of pay, MPs and unions have urged.

It comes as businesses across the country pilot or switch to a four-day week, amid emerging evidence it is good for productivity and staff wellbeing.

In a letter to business minister Kevin Hollinrake, the MPs and trade unionists said the five-day week was "no longer conducive to the needs of the 21st century", having been created over 100 years ago for an "unrecognisable" industrial and agricultural economy.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone reports:

Give workers right to request four-day week with no pay cut, unions and MPs say

Home office looking at asylum ‘safe’ list to combat channel crisis – report

Tuesday 29 November 2022 06:27 , Namita Singh

The government is reviewing plans to fast-track the removal of asylum seekers from designated “safe” countries in an effort to tackle the channel migrant crisis, it has been reported.

According to The Times, home secretary Suella Braverman is looking at resurrecting a list of countries deemed by the home office to be safe.

Asylum claims of citizens from those countries would largely be regarded as unfounded, unless they are able to provide contrasting evidence. There would be no right to appeal for rejected claimants.

Read the details in this report:

Home Office looking at asylum ‘safe’ list to combat Channel crisis – report

Sunak’s cabinet office has largest gender pay gap of all government departments

Tuesday 29 November 2022 06:20 , Namita Singh

Rishi Sunak’s cabinet office has the heftiest gender pay gap of all government departments, new figures reveal.

The gap between the earnings of male and female staff in the department rose by more than two-thirds from April 2021 to March 2022 - increasing from 9.8 to 16.6 per cent, according to a new government report.

Bonuses women were paid in 2022 in the cabinet office were lower than those men pocketed by an average of around £783.

Read the details in this report from our women’s correspondent Maya Oppenheim:

Rishi Sunak’s cabinet office has largest gender pay gap of all government departments

Don’t forget Ukraine's ‘tragedy’ this Christmas, says first lady

Tuesday 29 November 2022 06:12 , Namita Singh

People should not forget the war in Ukraine this Christmas, the country’s first lady has said ahead of a speech to MPs today.

Olena Zelenska is expected to address MPs and peers today as she visits London, days after Rishi Sunak made his first visit as prime minister to Kyiv to meet Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Zelenska will urge the British public not to forget the “tragedy” of the Russian invasion amid the festive season.

She also praised the UK’s vocal support for the Ukrainian resistance efforts against Vladimir Putin’s forces, as the country braces for winter.

Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska and Akshata Murthy, wife of prime minister Rishi Sunak after a meeting at Downing Street on 28 November 2022 in London (Getty Images)
Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska and Akshata Murthy, wife of prime minister Rishi Sunak after a meeting at Downing Street on 28 November 2022 in London (Getty Images)

She told the programme: “We feel that [strong support] by the aid for our forcefully displaced people, by the political and financial assistance and by humanitarian aid we are receiving from the British.

“Ukrainians are very tired of this war, but we have no choice in the matter. We are fighting for our very lives. The British public do have a choice. They can get used to our tragedy, concentrate on their own important things in life.

“My message for the British is as follows: It’s not just a war for our freedom and our lives.

This is the war of opposing world views, the war for the values. It’s important that these are preserved. This is a fight for the truth and human values. We do hope that the approaching season of Christmas doesn’t make you forget about our tragedy and get used to our suffering.

Olena Zelenska

PM urged to attend global meeting to drive deal on treaty to restore nature

Tuesday 29 November 2022 06:05 , Namita Singh

Rishi Sunak must lead the way on international negotiations to secure a global deal to reverse the loss of nature by 2030, conservationists have urged.

Conservation charity WWF wants countries to agree a "Paris"-style treaty - similar to the global deal struck in the French capital in 2015 to tackle climate change - to restore the natural world when they meet in Montreal next month.

The UN meeting, which has been much delayed by the pandemic, starts on 7 December in the Canadian city, and WWF is calling for countries including the UK to commit to the goal of conserving at least 30 per cent of the world’s land, wetlands and oceans by 2030.

Report:

PM urged to attend global meeting to drive deal on treaty to restore nature

Government accused of ‘weakening’ Online Safety Bill as it removes ‘legal but harmful requirement'

Tuesday 29 November 2022 05:50 , Namita Singh

The government has removed measures from its Online Safety Bill which would have forced social media sites to take down material designated “legal but harmful”, in what Labour called a “major weakening” of the legislation.

Some Conservative MPs had previously warned that the axed measures could threaten free speech and could lead to “political censorship”, and culture secretary Michelle Donelan argued on Monday that removing these aspects of the much-delayed bill would help to finally get it “into law”.

But the Samaritans warned the removal of the measures was “a hugely backwards step” and accused the government of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” before the bill returns to parliament next week.

My colleague Andy Gregory reports:

Government accused of ‘weakening’ Online Safety Bill as it axes key measures

Online Safety Bill to tackle ‘absurd situation’ of age limit verification

Tuesday 29 November 2022 05:35 , Namita Singh

Changes to the Online Safety Bill will tackle the “absurd situation” surrounding the enforcement of age limits on social media platforms, the culture secretary said.

The government has announced it is making amendments to the proposed internet safety laws in order to boost child online safety.

The updates will require tech firms to show how they enforce user age limits, as well as publish summaries of risk assessments in regard to potential harm to children on their sites and declare details of enforcement action taken against them by Ofcom – the new regulator for the tech sector.

Read more in this report:

Online Safety Bill to tackle ‘absurd situation’ of age limit verification

Sunak warns against ‘Cold War’ with China despite growing ‘authoritarianism’

Tuesday 29 November 2022 05:20 , Namita Singh

Rishi Sunak has accused China of sinking deeper into authoritarianism, warning that it presents an acute challenge to Britain’s values and interests.

In his first major foreign policy speech as prime minister, Mr Sunak promised to reshape UK foreign policy in response to “sharpening competition” from Beijing. But he warned against “simplistic Cold War rhetoric” on China, and insisted he would continue to employ “diplomacy and engagement” in his dealings with the communist-run state.

In the annual foreign policy address by the prime minister to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London, Mr Sunak promised an “evolutionary leap” in the UK’s approach to repressive regimes around the world, which he said would be characterised by “robust pragmatism”.

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports:

Sunak warns against ‘cold war’ with China despite brutal crackdowns

‘As thin as gruel’, says Labour MP, slamming Sunak’s speech

Tuesday 29 November 2022 05:10 , Namita Singh

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy called the speech “as thin as gruel”.

The Labour MP said: “All it shows is that once again the Conservative government is flip-flopping its rhetoric on China.”

“The government urgently needs to publish its long-promised China strategy as well as its update to the Integrated Review that is already out of date.”

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy leaves Millbank studios, following the resignation of Liz Truss as prime minister on 20 October 2022 (Getty Images)
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy leaves Millbank studios, following the resignation of Liz Truss as prime minister on 20 October 2022 (Getty Images)

Security minister Tom Tugendhat, a vocal China critic on the backbenches as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was pressed on government policy as he appeared on ITV.

Offering his backing to the prime minister’s approach, he said: “It’s something I’m going to be holding this government too. I’ve been very clear on my position on China for many years now.”

He also said he was “pushing” the government on removal of Chinese-made CCTV cameras.

“But the first thing to do is to make sure that no new ones are installed and to make sure that any that would or could be in secure areas are removed,” he said.

Mr Tugendhat, pressed on whether the government might consider new sanctions on China amid a wave of protests there, said: “I very much hope that the Foreign Office is watching very closely and is going to take action on this because the Foreign Office has got a responsibility to supervise what’s going on within China.”

Former Tory leader blasts Sunak’s China speech

Tuesday 29 November 2022 05:01 , Namita Singh

Rishi Sunak received sharp criticism immediately after he delivered his first major foreign policy speech as prime minister.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who is subject to sanctions from Beijing in relation to his record of speaking out about abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, told The Independent that Mr Sunak’s promise to pursue a policy of “diplomacy and engagement” with China was “shameful”.

He likened some of Mr Sunak’s language on China as close to “appeasement”.

Conservative MP Iain Duncan-Smith speaks at a ConservativeHome fringe event on the tpoic of Universal Credit on the third day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, central England, on 4 October 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)
Conservative MP Iain Duncan-Smith speaks at a ConservativeHome fringe event on the tpoic of Universal Credit on the third day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, central England, on 4 October 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking to Channel 4 News before Mr Sunak’s speech, Sir Iain pointed to the treatment of BBC cameraman Edward Lawrence, who the broadcaster said was “arrested and handcuffed” while covering demonstrations in China against Covid restrictions, and then “beaten and kicked” by police.

“On the very day we see all of that, the government comes out with its robust pragmatism, which I think to most people out there means kind of anything you want it to mean, and that sounds to me like getting pretty close to appeasement.”

UK ‘reinvigorating’ relationship with EU, says Sunak

Tuesday 29 November 2022 04:50 , Namita Singh

Rishi Sunak said that his administration was “reinvigorating” European relationships to tackle migration and improve security.

But alongside warm words, the prime minister also pledged to “never align” the UK with EU law.

“We’re also evolving our wider post-Brexit relations with Europe, including bilaterally and engaging with the new European Political Community,” he said.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak raises his glass for a toast during the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at Guildhall in central London on 28 November 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)
Prime minister Rishi Sunak raises his glass for a toast during the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at Guildhall in central London on 28 November 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

“But this is not about greater alignment. Under my leadership we’ll never align with EU law.

“Instead, we’ll foster respectful, mature relationships with our European neighbours on shared issues like energy and illegal migration to strengthen our collective resilience against strategic vulnerabilities.”

Sunak promises ‘evolutionary leap’ in foreign policy

Tuesday 29 November 2022 04:40 , Namita Singh

Prime minister Rishi Sunak offered a vision of “robust pragmatism” in standing up to global competitors like China, as he signalled an “evolutionary leap” in British foreign policy.

“Russia is challenging the fundamental principles of the UN Charter. China is consciously competing for global influence using all the levers of state power,” he said.

In the face of these challenges, short-termism or wishful thinking will not suffice. We can’t depend on Cold War arguments or approaches, or mere sentimentality about our past.

Rishi Sunak

Prime minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy look on as the Christmas tree lights are turned on outside number 10 at Downing Street, on 28 November 2022 in London, England (Getty Images)
Prime minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy look on as the Christmas tree lights are turned on outside number 10 at Downing Street, on 28 November 2022 in London, England (Getty Images)

He said it would require “being stronger in defending our values and the openness on which our prosperity depends”.

“It means delivering a stronger economy at home, as the foundation of our strength abroad. And it means standing up to our competitors, not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism.

“We will do all this not only through our diplomatic expertise, science and technology leadership, and investment in defence and security, but by dramatically increasing the quality and depth of our partnerships with like-minded allies around the world.”

‘Golden era’ of ties with China over, says Sunak

Tuesday 29 November 2022 04:29 , Namita Singh

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said that UK’s ‘golden era’ of ties with China was over in this major speech on foreign policy, describing China’s growing authoritarianism as a “systemic challenge to our values and interests”.

In his speech to the annual Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London, Mr Sunak said the UK would stand up to global competitors like China — “not with grand rhetoric but with robust pragmatism” and by boosting its ties with like-minded global allies including the US, Canada, Australia and Japan.

We recognise China poses a systemic challenge to our values and interests, a challenge that grows more acute as it moves towards even greater authoritarianism.

Rishi Sunak

Prime minister, Rishi Sunak, attends the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at The Guildhall on 28 November 2022 in London (Getty Images)
Prime minister, Rishi Sunak, attends the Lord Mayor’s Banquet at The Guildhall on 28 November 2022 in London (Getty Images)

Referring to Beijing’s handling of widespread protests across China against the country’s strict “zero Covid” strategy, Mr Sunak said that “instead of listening to their people’s protests, the Chinese government has chosen to crack down further, including by assaulting a BBC journalist.”

Tuesday 29 November 2022 04:05 , Namita Singh

Welcome to The Independent’s UK politics blog for Tuesday, 29 November 2022, where we provide the latest on everything buzzing in Westminster.