UK politics news - live: Dominic Raab bullying probe expanded to include another complaint

An investigation into Dominic Raab’s conduct has been expanded to include another complaint, No 10 has said.

Downing Street ordered a probe into the deputy prime minister, who also serves as justice secretary, as he faced a number of bullying allegations.

The inquiry initially looked at two formal complaints - but No 10 said a third received on Wednesday has now been added to the mix.

It involved Mr Raab’s time at the Department for Exiting the European Union, a Downing Street spokesperson said. Rishi Sunak maintains confidence in his deputy, they added.

Mr Raab has been hit with allegations of bullying in recent weeks - including that he lost his temper at work, threw food across the room and that staff were left “scared” to go into his office.

He insisted he had always “behaved professionally” amid reports this week former private secretaries were expected to lodge formal complaints against his conduct.

Key points

  • Raab probe now dealing with third complaint, No 10 confirms

  • Starmer wants ‘lower tax on working people’...

  • ... and rules out Swiss-style deal with EU

  • Jeremy Hunt does not accept ‘Brexit will make us poorer’

  • Rishi Sunak considers limiting number of foreign students and dependents

Friday 25 November 2022 03:50 , Namita Singh

Welcome to The Independent’s UK politics blog for Friday, 25 November 2022 where we provide the latest on everything buzzing in Westminster.

Rishi Sunak considers limiting number of foreign students and dependents

Friday 25 November 2022 04:18 , Namita Singh

Rishi Sunak is considering a crackdown on foreign students bringing dependents and studying “low-quality” degrees after net migration to the UK climbed to a record half a million.

Downing Street indicated that plans to bring overall numbers down could include putting up barriers for international students’ loved ones and restricting admissions to top universities.

This would be in line with proposals being explored by home secretary Suella Braverman, who has previously complained about foreign students “bringing in family members who can piggyback onto their student visa” and “propping up, frankly, substandard courses in inadequate institutions”.

Read the details in this report:

Rishi Sunak mulls limiting number of foreign students and dependents

PM faces Tory backlash over record immigration figures

Friday 25 November 2022 04:30 , Namita Singh

Rishi Sunak faces backlash from Conservative MPs after new figures showed net migration to the UK soaring to a record high, with 504,000 more people arriving in the country than departing over the past year.

“Unprecedented” global events including the lifting of Covid lockdowns, war in Ukraine and the Chinese security clampdown in Hong Kong sent immigration figures soaring.

At 1.1 million, the total number of arrivals in the 12 months to June was the highest since statistics were first gathered in 1964 and far outweighed the 560,000 departures, despite the fact that for the first time since 1991 more EU nationals left the UK than arrived.

More in this joint report from Andrew Woodcock and Holly Bancroft:

Rishi Sunak faces Tory backlash over record immigration figures

‘Recklessly irresponsible’ Brexit rush to axe EU laws is putting safety standards at risk, warn watchdogs

Friday 25 November 2022 04:45 , Namita Singh

Standards on food safety, animal welfare and consumer rights are all under threat from the government’s “recklessly irresponsible” bid to axe EU laws in a matter of months, safety watchdogs have warned.

Civil servants are rushing to rewrite reams of existing regulations because the former so-called Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg wants to cleanse the country of rules that originated in Brussels by the end of 2023.

Trading standards officers have now said they are concerned that ministers’ plans could see dangerous products end up on British shelves, new diseases taking hold on farms, and scammers given new opportunities to rip people off.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone reports:

Brexit rush to axe EU laws ‘puts safety standards at risk’

Watchdog apologises for telling MPs they can throw Christmas parties paid for by taxpayer

Friday 25 November 2022 05:00 , Namita Singh

The watchdog responsible for MPs’ expenses has apologised for telling MPs they could charge taxpayers for Christmas parties, which resulted in some politicians receiving “abuse”.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) had been widely criticised for giving the go-ahead amid a cost of living crisis.

MPs also complained that the watchdog had given the impression they had been “clamouring” to put food, refreshments and decorations for an office party on expenses.

Report:

Watchdog sorry for telling MPs they can throw Christmas parties paid for by taxpayer

Johnson almost served as foreign secretary under Liz Truss, new book claims

Friday 25 November 2022 05:15 , Namita Singh

Former prime minister Boris Johnson came close to serving in the Cabinet of his successor Liz Truss, a new book claims.

Written by The Financial Times’ Whitehall editor Sebastian Payne, the book claims that Ms Truss met Mr Johnson on two occasions over the course of the leadership contest in the summer, and while he remained in No 10 as caretaker PM.

The two ex-prime ministers also spoke on the phone in the final week of July to discuss whether a potential job swap should Ms Truss, who was serving as foreign secretary at the time, be victorious in the contest.

My colleague Emily Atkinson has more:

Boris Johnson almost served as foreign secretary under Liz Truss, new book claims

Raab insists he always ‘behaved professionally’ amid bullying claims

Friday 25 November 2022 05:30 , Namita Singh

Dominic Raab has insisted he “behaved professionally at all times” despite facing growing claims of bullying.

The deputy prime minister told Sky News on Thursday that he looks forward to dealing with the allegations “fully and transparently”.

It comes after the BBC reported that civil servants who worked for Mr Raab are preparing to file formal bullying complaints.

Read the details here:

Raab insists he always ‘behaved professionally’ despite bullying claims

Johnson and Truss join Tory rebellion against onshore wind ban

Friday 25 November 2022 05:45 , Namita Singh

Boris Johnson and Liz Truss have joined a Tory backbench rebellion against a defacto ban on new onshore windfarms, in a blow to Rishi Sunak’s authority.

The former prime ministers signed an amendment to the government’s Levelling Up Bill tabled by Simon Clarke, who served as a minister in both their governments, to allow onshore wind development.

Mr Clarke said he was “delighted” to gain their backing.

More in this report:

Boris Johnson and Liz Truss join Tory rebellion against onshore wind ban

Ban on Chinese security cameras in ‘sensitive’ government sites

Friday 25 November 2022 06:00 , Namita Singh

Government departments have been ordered to stop installing surveillance cameras made by Chinese firms on “sensitive sites” due to security concerns.

The order applies to “visual surveillance systems” made by firms subject to China’s national security law, which requires companies to cooperate with Beijing’s security services.

Whitehall ministries have been told existing equipment should not be connected to departmental core networks and consideration should be given to removing it entirely.

Report:

Ban on Chinese security cameras in ‘sensitive’ government sites

Hunt fails to deny he was source for ‘UK seeking Swiss-style deal’ claim

Friday 25 November 2022 06:15 , Namita Singh

Jeremy Hunt has failed to deny he was the source behind a claim the UK will seek a “Swiss-style deal” to improve the Brexit agreement – but insisted he did not brief that is his aim.

Quizzed by MPs, the chancellor said “I do not support, I have never contemplated” tearing up threadbare Boris Johnson’s deal, despite it being blamed for a big slump in GDP and cross-Channel trade.

But Mr Hunt failed, repeatedly, to deny he or an aide in the Treasury briefed journalists ahead of last weekend’s story which has reignited the Conservative wars over Europe.

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports:

Jeremy Hunt fails to deny he was source for ‘UK seeking Swiss-style Brexit’ claim

Cleverly pledges more ambulances for Ukraine during visit to country

Friday 25 November 2022 06:30 , Namita Singh

James Cleverly has announced a package of “hands-on” support to help Ukraine through the winter while on a visit to the war-torn nation.

The foreign fecretary was due to meet president Volodymyr Zelensky during his visit, which comes days after prime minister Rishi Sunak travelled to Kyiv.

Mr Cleverly announced the practical support as Ukraine’s power grid and other critical infrastructure has been pounded by Russian strikes, causing blackouts and leaving millions without heat, power or water as temperatures plummet.

Read the details in this report:

Cleverly pledges more ambulances for Ukraine during visit to country

Nearly half of people ‘concerned about how their family will afford Christmas’

Friday 25 November 2022 06:40 , Namita Singh

Two-thirds (66 per cent) of people would rather go without a Christmas present this year if the gift-giver is worried about money, a survey has found.

Just over a fifth (21 per cent) said they would encourage people to buy a cheaper gift, research by credit provider Vanquis said.

More than seven in 10 (72 per cent) women surveyed said they would rather go without a Christmas present this year if they know the person giving it to them is worried about money, as would six in 10 (60 per cent) men.

Read more about how the cost of living crisis is expected to impact the festive season in this report:

Nearly half of people ‘concerned about how their family will afford Christmas’

Nurses to strike next month over pay after talks offer is rejected

Friday 25 November 2022 06:50 , Namita Singh

Nurses are to hold two days of strike action next month in a dramatic escalation of the pay row raging across the NHS.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced its members will stage their first ever national walk out on 15 and 20 December.

The RCN said it was calling strikes after the UK government turned down its offer of formal, detailed negotiations as an alternative to industrial action.

Report:

Nurses to strike next month over pay after talks offer is rejected

Government to criminalise ‘downblousing’ and sharing of pornographic deepfakes

Friday 25 November 2022 07:00 , Namita Singh

Sharing “downblouse” images and pornographic “deepfakes” without consent will be made crimes, the government has announced.

An amendment to the Online Safety Bill means police and prosecutors will be given more power to bring the “vile” abusers to justice.

Those who share “deepfakes” – explicit images or videos which have been manipulated to look like someone without their consent- could be jailed under the proposed changes.

Read more about the amended bill in this report:

Government to criminalise ‘downblousing’ and sharing of pornographic deepfakes

Matt Hancock better at bushtucker trials than clinical trials, says Burnham

Friday 25 November 2022 07:15 , Namita Singh

The mayor of Greater Manchester said Matt Hancock is “better at bushtucker trials, than clinical trials” as the former health secretary continued his run on I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!

Andy Burnham said he did not think Mr Hancock was a “bad person” but that his decision to appear on the ITV reality show demonstrated “bad judgement”.

It comes as the West Suffolk MP avoided elimination for the sixth time, after radio DJ Chris Moyles was voted off on yesterday’s show.

Speaking on BBC’s Question Time about Mr Hancock’s time in the jungle, Mr Burnham said: “He’s clearly better at showbiz than he is at politics...better at Bushtucker trials than clinical trials, for sure.”

Matt Hancock will have to face trials of a different kind when he returns to Westminster following his stint on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! (PA Wire)
Matt Hancock will have to face trials of a different kind when he returns to Westminster following his stint on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! (PA Wire)

He’s not, in my view, a bad person, but it is a bad judgement because politicians should be about we - what’s good for us.

Andy Burnham

He continued: “But this is all about me, isn’t it, me, me and my situation and a cost-of-living crisis for his constituents.

“(There) are things that he should be here answering for, not in the jungle trying to curry favour with other celebrities and the British public.”

Mr Hancock held the post of health secretary during the majority of the coronavirus crisis, during which time the vaccine was developed and tested.

National highways projects costing billions more than planned

Friday 25 November 2022 07:30 , Namita Singh

Enhancements to England’s motorways and major A roads will cost billions of pounds more than planned, a report has found.

Public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) said delays and inflation mean government-owned company National Highways will not be able to deliver dozens of projects within budget.

The report warned it will cost an estimated £3.3bn more than planned to complete projects due to take place in the second road investment strategy (RIS2) between April 2020 and March 2025.

Report:

National Highways projects costing billions more than planned

Government fees to keep identity of MI5 agent who abused partner secret

Friday 25 November 2022 07:48 , Zoe Tidman

The government has spent £376,775 in legal fees to keep secret the identity of an MI5 agent who abused his former partner before moving abroad to carry out work for a foreign intelligence agency, it can be revealed.

Labour said that ministers had lost “any chance” of recovering the money spent to protect the agent, who had a background in rightwing extremism, the “moment somebody put the case into the public domain”.

Matt Mathers has the exclusive story:

Government spends £376,775 to keep identity of M15 spy who abused partner secret

Health secretary on nursing strike

Friday 25 November 2022 08:00 , Zoe Tidman

In other news, here is the health secretary tweeting about the planned nursing strike:

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Tory MP ‘delighted’ to get Truss and Johnson backing over onshore wind

Friday 25 November 2022 08:19 , Zoe Tidman

Here is the Tory MP leading the backbench rebellion on onshore wind on getting the backing of the two former PMs:

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Public support new wind farms, poll finds

Friday 25 November 2022 08:36 , Zoe Tidman

Earlier this month, a poll found the British public overwhelmingly backed the construction of new wind farms, as our policy correspondent Jon Stone reported.

At the same time, Rishi Sunak was indicating he would keep in place the government’s ban on new onshore wind farms – ditching a promise by Liz Truss to allow new green power installations.

Read more:

Rishi Sunak at odds with Tory voters over ban on new wind farms

People ‘too quick to forgive Hancock’, Question Time audience member says

Friday 25 November 2022 08:55 , Zoe Tidman

In other news, Matt Hancock and his stint on I’m a Celebrity... was mentioned on Question Time last night.

Take a look here:

Hunt does not accept ‘Brexit will make us poorer'

Friday 25 November 2022 09:13 , Zoe Tidman

In other news, Jeremy Hunt has rubbished the forecasts of his own economic watchdog and declared he does not accept Brexit “will make us poorer”.

In a fractious interview, the chancellor was confronted with his watchdog’s analysis that leaving the EU will swipe £100bn from output and £40bn from revenues by the decade’s end.

Rob Merrick, our deputy political editor, reports:

Chancellor rubbishes his own advisers and denies Brexit ‘will make us poorer’

Onshire wind farm ban ‘costing billions'

Friday 25 November 2022 09:45 , Zoe Tidman

Earlier this month, Labour claimed the government ban on new onshore wind farms is costing the country billions of pounds in higher energy charges.

Read up here:

Ban on new onshore wind is costing billions, says Labour

Reminder: Truss moved to scrap onshore windfarm ban in No 10

Friday 25 November 2022 09:57 , Zoe Tidman

Liz Truss had moved to reverse the ban in the mini-Budget before she resigned. Here is a reminder:

Onshore wind farm ban scrapped in mini-Budget

‘No one supports strikes,’ Labour shadow secretary says

Friday 25 November 2022 10:13 , Zoe Tidman

Anneliese Dodds said “no one supports strikes” when asked if Labour backs nurses walking out.

Pressed for a “yes or no” answer to the question, she told Sky News: “Strikes indicate that negotiations haven’t taken place, that they haven’t been serious.

“This is going to be bad for nurses because they’ll be losing a day’s pay, obviously, and it’s going to have that impact on patients.

“So it’s wrong that nurses have been driven to this stage and it’s wrong that the Conservative government has not been sitting down with those nurses to avert this.”

Anneliese Dodds says strikes will be ‘bad for nurses’ (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)
Anneliese Dodds says strikes will be ‘bad for nurses’ (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Wire)

PA

What was the OBR forecast?

Friday 25 November 2022 10:31 , Zoe Tidman

Here is a reminder of what the OBR forecast last year, which Jeremy Hunt was asked about on Sky News:

Brexit’s impact on economy worse than pandemic – OBR

James Cleverly in Ukraine

Friday 25 November 2022 10:44 , Zoe Tidman

The foreign secretary has met with Ukraine’s president today:

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Starmer wants ‘lower tax on working people'

Friday 25 November 2022 11:14 , Zoe Tidman

Sir Keir Starmer has said he wants to cut taxes for working people and ruled out a Swiss-style deal with Brussels as he vowed to fight the next election on the economy.

Speaking to The Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics podcast, he said Labour’s offer will be to “stabilise and grow our economy”, stressing that “everything hangs off that”.

He said he would like to see “lower tax on working people”, but declined to “spell out our manifesto now”.

PA

Most deprived areas see biggest cutbacks in cost of living crisis

Friday 25 November 2022 11:32 , Zoe Tidman

The cost-of-living crisis is weighing more heavily on people living in the most deprived areas of England, new official data has revealed.

The Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) survey exposed divisions across the country in terms of how people are being affected by higher living costs.

People living in the most deprived areas of England more frequently reported spending less on food and essentials, at 58 per cent, compared with a third of those living in the least deprived areas who said so.

PA

Labour plan for tackling violence against women

Friday 25 November 2022 12:00 , Zoe Tidman

Sir Keir Starmer has tweeted his plan to tackling violence against women and girls:

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Starmer says working people ‘clobbered time again'

Friday 25 November 2022 12:06 , Zoe Tidman

Sir Keir Starmer has called the current tax burdes “anti-Conservative stuff”.

“I want taxes to come down for working people,” he told The Telegraph’s Choppers Politics podcast.

“They’ve been really clobbered time and time again, whether that’s on income tax, whether it’s national insurance or council tax or the stealth tax thresholds, everywhere you look,” he said.

But the Labour leader added it was “very important” that “we don’t make promises we can’t keep”.

Labour’s leader says he wants lower tax for working people (Getty)
Labour’s leader says he wants lower tax for working people (Getty)

Starmer rules out Swiss-style deal with EU

Friday 25 November 2022 12:33 , Zoe Tidman

Sir Keir Starmer also told the podcast he would not pursue a Swiss-style relationship with the EU.

It follows reports - denied by No 10 - that this was being weighed up behind closed doors in Whitehall.

“I went to Switzerland and studied that model and I wouldn’t do a Swiss model,” the Labour leader said.

But he said the current deal “isn’t good enough”.

PA

Pornographic ‘deepfakes’ without consent to be criminalised

Friday 25 November 2022 12:52 , Zoe Tidman

Sharing “downblouse” images and pornographic “deepfakes” without consent will be made crimes, the government has announced.

Here is Dominic Raab on the issue:

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And you can read the full story here:

‘Downblousing’ and sharing pornographic deepfakes to be made illegal

What is a Swiss-style deal with the EU?

Friday 25 November 2022 13:12 , Zoe Tidman

“If you thought Brexit was done, think again. The coming recession has put Britain’s relationship with the EU back on the agenda,” our policy correspondent Jon Stone writes.

“There’s strong evidence the current hard Brexit relationship, negotiated by Boris Johnson, is doing Britain serious economic damage and getting in the way of trade.

As such, it was not a huge surprise to read reports this weekend that some inside government want the UK to get on the path to a Swiss-style Brexit deal.”

He takes a look at what this deal entails:

What is a Swiss-style Brexit deal, and could Britain have one?

Raab probe now dealing with third complaint, No 10 confirms

Friday 25 November 2022 13:20 , Zoe Tidman

A third complaint against Dominic Raab is being investigated by the probe ordered by No 10, deepening the crisis surrounding the deputy prime minister.

The inquiry into Rishi Sunak’s key ally was already looking into his behaviour while justice secretary and Cabinet Office minister – but his time as Brexit secretary is now also under scrutiny.

Rob Merrick, the deputy political editor, reports:

Third complaint against Dominic Raab is being investigated, No 10 reveals

No 10 spokesperson on Raab inquiry

Friday 25 November 2022 13:50 , Zoe Tidman

Here is what the No 10 spokesperson said about the inquiry into Dominic Raab:

“I can confirm that the prime minister has now asked the investigator to add a further formal complaint relating to conduct at the Department for Exiting the European Union and to establish the facts in line with the existing terms of reference.”

The third formal complaint was received by the Cabinet Office on 23 November, the spokesperson added.

Raab facing fresh bullying complaints, reports said this week

Friday 25 November 2022 14:03 , Zoe Tidman

Reports this week suggested Dominic Raab was facing bullying complaints from around one dozen more former staffers.

Questions have also been raised over Mr Raab’s alleged use of personal email accounts for government business at two different departments, BBC Newsnight reported.

Liam James reported at the time:

Raab faces coordinated bullying complaints from a dozen ex-staffers, report says

Raab says he always ‘behaved professionally'

Friday 25 November 2022 14:25 , Zoe Tidman

Dominic Raab defended himself against allegations of bullying and using his personal email for government business earlier this week.

The deputy PM said he had always adhered to the ministerial code and “behaved professionally” as fresh bullying claims emerged.

Read more:

Raab says he has behaved professionally ‘at all times’ despite further claims

Fresh complaints against Raab

Friday 25 November 2022 14:43 , Zoe Tidman

Adam Forrest has more on fresh complaints againt Dominic Raab that emerged this week:

Dominic Raab hit by more formal complaints over bullying allegations

Raab still has Sunak support, No 10 spokesperson said.

Friday 25 November 2022 15:09 , Zoe Tidman

Dominic Raab still has the confidence of the prime minister, a No 10 spokesperson said when discussing the expanded scope of the inquiry.

“There’s now an independent investigation that’s ongoing. It’s led by someone with extensive experience in this area. We’re not going to pre-empt or pre-judge that process,” they continued.

Too many domestic abuse victims being let down, Starmer says

Friday 25 November 2022 15:33 , Zoe Tidman

In other news, Sir Keir Starmer has said too many victims of domestic violence and abuse are being let down by a criminal justice system which is going “backwards”.

The Labour leader said the current situation was “heartbreaking” after speaking to several women at a refuge in Birmingham, on Friday, marking White Ribbon Day and the campaign to end male violence against women.

PA

Bullying inquiry into Raab underway

Friday 25 November 2022 15:47 , Zoe Tidman

The bullying inquiry into Dominic Raab started this week. It is being led by prominent employment lawyer Adam Tolley KC.

Andrew Woodcock, our political editor, has the details:

Dominic Raab bullying inquiry to begin after investigator revealed

Another Tory MP says they will not stand at next election

Friday 25 November 2022 16:17 , Zoe Tidman

Sir Gary Streeter has become the latest Conservative MP to announce that they will not stand at the next general election.

The South West Devon MP wrote to his constituency association saying he will “not be seeking re-election at the next general election, whenever it comes”.

“I very much hope that a local candidate will be chosen to give us the best chance of holding this seat,” he said.

“I have great confidence that under Rishi Sunak’s leadership our country will recover strongly from recent challenges.”

Sir Gary Streeter says he will not stand at the next election (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)
Sir Gary Streeter says he will not stand at the next election (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

PA

Full story: Sunak retains confidence in Raab, No 10 says

Friday 25 November 2022 16:38 , Zoe Tidman

Rishi Sunak still has confidence in his deputy after an inquiry into Dominic Raab’s behaviour was expanded to include a third formal complaint lodged against him.

Read more:

Sunak retains confidence in Raab as third formal complaint filed

Goodbye

Friday 25 November 2022 17:11 , Thomas Kingsley

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