Downing Street has ruled out a last-ditch intervention by ministers to halt disruptive rail strikes which are due to go ahead across the country next week.
Strikes by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union on Network Rail and 13 train operators are set for June 21, 23 and 25. There will also be a walkout on London Underground on June 21.
Labour has called for ministers to get involved in talks between the unions and train companies to avert the industrial action, with Sir Keir Starmer telling Boris Johnson on Wednesday that the PM “could do something to stop the strikes, but he has not lifted a finger”.
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said at lunchtime that the Government continues to “call on the unions” to scrap the strikes – but stressed ministers will not be intervening.
The spokesman said: “Obviously ministers remain close to the ongoing situation with regard to what are live discussions.
“But as we have made clear, we are not the employers in this case and we can’t intervene in the negotiations between rail companies and the unions. But what we want to see is unions get back round the table with their employer and call off the strikes next week.”
Follow the latest updates below.
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PM cancels visits
Boris Johnson has cancelled a Wakefield by-election campaign visit and Q&A with Northern Tories today, writes Tony Diver, The Telegraph’s Whitehall Correspondent.
It sounds like the order came down from the top last night and people in CCHQ and No 10 are baffled.
Today had been marked out in the No 10 grid as “LEADERSHIP”.
We underestimated inflation, admits Bank of England
A top Bank of England official has admitted that the central bank underestimated inflation, but insisted it wasn’t behind the curve in tackling the surge in prices.
Huw Pill, the Bank’s chief economist, said: “In the sense of the outcome of our forecasts, yes we have underestimated inflation.”
It comes after the Monetary Policy Committee increased its estimates for peak inflation to just above 11pc – the eighth time in a year it’s been forced to change its forecasts.
There is a clear frontrunner when it comes to the tax people would most like to see cut: Fuel duty.
A Redfield & Wilton Strategies poll for The Telegraph conducted on June 15 found 44 per cent of people said fuel duty is the tax they would most like to see reduced.
In second place was income tax with 19 per cent and in third place was VAT with 13 per cent.
Poll: More people now view Tories as tax raising party
More people now associate the Tories with being a party that raises taxes rather than one that lowers them, a new poll has found in a fresh blow to Boris Johnson.
An exclusive survey for The Telegraph conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found that 43 per cent of people now most associate the Tories with raising taxes while 19 per cent most associate the Conservative Party with lowering taxes.
The poll also showed that more people now associate Labour with lowering taxes than raising them.
Some 29 per cent of respondents said they most associate Labour with lowering taxes while 23 per cent said they associate the party with raising taxes.
The numbers are likely to prompt alarm bells in Conservative HQ because they suggest the Tories are at risk of losing their reputation as the party of lower taxes.
No 10 defends review of ethics adviser role
Downing Street was asked at lunchtime if Boris Johnson agreed with John Penrose who said this morning that it would be a “big mistake” to scrap the role of the PM’s ethics adviser following the resignation of Lord Geidt. (see the post below at 08.35).
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “The Prime Minister believes it is right to consider some of the issues that have been raised by both Lord Geidt and PACAC. It is right to consider those issues and reflect on them before taking a decision on how best to fulfil the PM’s commitment to ensure rigorous oversight of ministerial interests.”
Government remains committed to income tax cut in 2024
Rishi Sunak announced in March this year that he intends to cut the basic rate of income tax by 1p in 2024.
There have been calls from some Tory MPs to bring that cut forward to help families struggling amid the cost-of-living crisis.
No 10 said at lunchtime that there are “no plans” to change the timetable.
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “You will remember that the Chancellor has set that out. There is no plans to change that but obviously taxation is a matter for the Chancellor and the Treasury.”
No 10 welcomes chance for UK to host Eurovision
The UK is set to host Eurovision in 2023 after broadcast bosses ruled that previous winner Ukraine was unable to stage the next song contest, with the BBC in talks over organising the event (you can read the full story here).
No 10 has welcomed the prospect of the UK hosting the competition.
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “Ukraine’s victory in the Eurovision song contest was richly deserved and as the rightful winner the Government’s firm wish has been to see next year’s contest hoisted there.
“If the EBU decides that the competition can’t go ahead in Ukraine we would of course welcome the opportunity to work closely with Ukraine and the BBC to host it here in the UK.
“But we would be committed to ensuring it overwhelmingly reflects Ukraine’s rich culture, heritage and creativity as well as building on the ongoing partnership between our two countries.”
‘We can’t intervene in negotiations’
Labour has repeatedly called for ministers to get involved in talks between the unions and train companies to avert the strikes.
Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said on Wednesday that Boris Johnson “could do something to stop the strikes, but he has not lifted a finger”.
Asked if ministers could intervene, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “As I have said, we are not the employer here and we can’t intervene in negotiations between rail companies and the unions.
“But ultimately what we would like to see is the unions call off their strikes, get back round the table with the rail companies.”
No 10 rules out last-ditch bid to halt rail strikes
Downing Street has effectively ruled out a last-ditch intervention by ministers to halt disruptive rail strikes which are due to go ahead next week.
Strikes by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union on Network Rail and 13 train operators are set for June 21, 23 and 25 next week. There will also be a walkout on London Underground on the June 21.
The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said the Government continues to “call on the unions to call them off” but said ministers will not be intervening.
He said: “Obviously ministers remain close to the ongoing situation with regard to what are live discussions.
“But as we have made clear, we are not the employers in this case and we can’t intervene in the negotiations between rail companies and the unions.
“But what we want to see is unions get back round the table with their employer and call off the strikes next week.”
Ukraine takes step closer to joining the EU
Ukraine has taken a step closer towards joining the EU after the European Commission recommended it to be granted candidate status to join the bloc.
The boost to Ukraine’s hopes of membership is laden with meaning in a country that turned defiantly westwards during the 2013 Euromaidan protests that toppled its pro-Russian president.
It will be a blow for Vladimir Putin, whose illegal invasion was an attempt to force Ukraine back into Moscow’s sphere of influence.
EU leaders are expected to approve Ukraine’s candidate status at next week’s European Council summit but with strict conditions.
The number of people crossing the English Channel to reach the UK this year has now passed 11,000, the latest figures suggest.
Analysis of Ministry of Defence data shows 11,092 people have been brought to shore by Border Force or the RNLI after being rescued from small boats in the Channel.
It comes after 146 people on four small boats were brought to Britain yesterday. The daily number has been decreasing steadily throughout the week after a high of 444 on Tuesday. That was the highest number since 562 on April 14.
Is being ‘boring’ a good or bad trait for a PM?
Among those people who said they agreed Sir Keir Starmer is “boring” (see the post below at 10.56), some 41 per cent said they believed it is a bad trait for a potential future prime minister.
Asked if being “boring” is a good or bad trait for a PM, some 29 per cent said bad and 12 per cent said very bad.
About one in five said it was a good or very good trait – nine per cent said very good and 12 per cent said good.
Some 37 per cent said it was neither good nor bad.
Almost half of voters believe Sir Keir Starmer is ‘boring’
Reports earlier this week suggested Sir Keir Starmer had urged his shadow cabinet to stop telling journalists that he is “boring”.
An exclusive poll for The Telegraph has now found that 45 per cent of voters believe the Labour leader is “boring”.
The survey conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found 18 per cent said they strongly agreed he is “boring” while 27 per cent said they agreed.
Just four per cent strongly disagreed and 14 per cent said they disagreed. Just under a third – 28 per cent – said they neither agreed nor disagreed.
One in five believe Rwanda plan is ‘too relaxed’
The nation is split on whether Boris Johnson’s Rwanda policy is too tough, with one in five people actually of the view that the “offshoring” plan is “too relaxed”.
An exclusive poll of 2,000 people for The Telegraph, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, found almost one third of voters – 30 per cent – believe the approach is “about right”.
But 21 per cent said they believed it is “too relaxed” while 24 per cent said it is “too tough”.
A quarter of respondents were unsure.
Poll: More people back Rwanda policy than oppose it
Just over four in 10 Britons – 42 per cent – support the Government’s Rwanda migrants policy, an exclusive poll for The Telegraph has found.
The survey, conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on June 15, found that 20 per cent of people strongly support the policy while 22 per cent support it.
The policy is strongly opposed by 17 per cent of people and opposed by 11 per cent of people – a total opposition of 28 per cent.
Some 16 per cent of respondents said they neither supported nor opposed the policy.
Prospect of scrapping ethics adviser role is ‘shocking’
The prospect of Downing Street potentially scrapping the role of ethics adviser to the PM is “shocking”, according to Sir Ed Davey.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats said the independent adviser on ministers’ interests should be made totally independent because upholding the ministerial code is “really critical”. The adviser is currently appointed by the PM and the PM has final say on matters relating to the code.
Sir Ed told Times Radio: “The idea that the Government isn’t going to reappoint an ethics adviser to oversee the ministerial code, I think it’s quite shocking.”
PM is not ‘like most Conservatives’
Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has claimed Boris Johnson is not “like most Conservatives”.
He told Times Radio: “I don’t think the Prime Minister is like most Conservatives, actually. I think most Conservatives try to do the right thing, the decent thing, this Prime Minister never has.
“I’m just shocked that Tory MPs A. put him there in the first place and B. allow him to continue when the evidence is overwhelming.”
Sir Ed Davey: Families facing a ‘cocktail of problems’
Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has warned families are facing a “cocktail of problems” as he repeated his calls for immediate tax cuts.
He told Times Radio: “It means a tax cut for people who are struggling. We’ve argued for an emergency cut in VAT of 2.5 per cent, that would deliver for the average household £600 in VAT tax cut.
“That’s needed, because people are struggling with rising food prices, petrol prices, interest rates. I mean, it’s a real cocktail of problems for families at the moment.”
Sir Ed said the Government’s help on the cost of living so far has been “poor” and not of the “right order”.
Northern Ireland border row could take a ‘decade’ to resolve
David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, has warned it may take a decade to resolve the Northern Ireland border row between the UK and the EU.
Mr Davis told Politico that some Brexit benefits had not materialised because of disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “It’s largely recoverable. I mean, Ireland’s going to take a long time. It’s going to take a decade to get right, I think… maybe I’m wrong about a decade, but it’s going to take years.”
‘There won’t be tax cuts now’
Paul Scully, the business minister, has categorically ruled out imminent personal tax cuts.
He told Sky News: “What I don’t want to do is write a Budget months ahead of a Budget. There won’t be tax cuts now because as I say any taxes are dealt with at a Budget in the autumn.
“There is so much to go until we get to the autumn and things can change in a number of ways.”
‘We are not going to be able to save every business’
The Bank of England warned yesterday that inflation will climb to 11 per cent this year while Rishi Sunak indicated that he will not cut personal taxes until spiralling prices are brought under control (you can read the full story here).
The increasingly grim economic picture has prompted renewed scrutiny of what the Government is doing to help take the sting out of the cost-of-living crisis.
Paul Scully, the business minister, said the Government “can’t solve every problem” but will do “everything we can” to help people.
He told Sky News: “In terms of existing householders and people’s everyday bills, the Chancellor will look and respond accordingly.
“What we can’t do, he has already said, he’s absolutely right, the Government can’t solve every problem within this. We are not going to be able to save every business and work with everybody’s individual costs but we will do everything we can within the remit of keeping public finances tight as well.”
MPs ‘should not have say’ on next ethics adviser
The Liberal Democrats have called for Parliament to be given a say on the appointment of the PM’s next independent adviser on ministers’ interests (if there is one).
Paul Scully, the business minister, rejected the idea this morning as he suggested Parliament should not be involved in the “day to day running” of the Government.
He told Sky News: “I think it is difficult because you then get into positions where government governs and parliament scrutinises that.
“Parliament will undoubtedly continue to debate this matter but I am not sure that that day to day running, the Government is beholden to Parliament in that sort of balance of power as it were. In our unwritten constitution I am not sure that is how it works.”
Minister unsure if Lord Geidt will be replaced
Paul Scully, the business minister, was asked if there will be another ethics adviser appointed following the resignation of Lord Geidt.
He told Sky News: “That I don’t know. There is a number of questions that Lord Geidt has raised about the way that that system works and that is right that No 10 actually takes time to look at that and work that through. That will be for them to announce.”
Asked if anyone would actually want the job, Mr Scully said: “As I say, I think that is part of the consideration is how the system works.”
Minister insists PM upholds ‘highest standards of his office’
Paul Scully, the business minister, is on the morning media round for the Government.
He was asked if he could say that he believes Boris Johnson upholds the “highest standards required of his office”.
He told Sky News: “Yeah, I can. I think he has been clear in his approach regarding the fine that he received.
“I think Lord Geidt seemed to have resigned on the discussion around when the Prime Minister asked him for advice for supporting our industries in the next few months.”
Labour: PM ‘doesn’t have a moral backbone’
Emily Thornberry, the shadow attorney general, has claimed Boris Johnson “doesn’t have a moral backbone”.
Ms Thornberry was asked during an interview on LBC Radio if she believes voters care about Lord Geidt’s resignation.
She said: “I think people care that they have a Prime Minister who is dishonest and who is happy to break the rules and who doesn’t have a moral backbone, just doesn’t, and keeps losing ethics advisers because he is not ethical. I think that matters.”
She added: “What is important is that we have a Prime Minister who doesn’t seem to think that the rules apply to him and they do.”
PM is ‘overdrawn’ with voters and MPs
John Penrose, the Government’s former anti-corruption tsar, said Boris Johnson is currently “overdrawn” with voters and MPs.
The senior Tory MP said the “parameters” of the role of independent adviser on ministers’ interests could be changed but the role itself should remain.
He told the BBC: “So by all means change the parameters but I don’t think you can weaken it, particularly at the moment.
“I just think the Prime Minister is currently overdrawn, if I can put it that way, on his account with both the voters and with the Parliamentary party.
“They need to show that they are serious about this. This is part of the reset, I would argue, which the Prime Minister has rightly said he wants to do after last week’s vote of no confidence, good for him. This would be a good way of being part of that then moving it forward.”
Scrapping ethics adviser role would be ‘big mistake’
Downing Street said yesterday that the role of ethics adviser could be scrapped following the resignation of Lord Geidt.
John Penrose, the Government’s former anti-corruption tsar, said this morning the PM would be making a “big mistake” if he does abolish the role.
He told the BBC: “Well, I think that that would be potentially quite a big mistake. The point here is that you can obviously, and if they felt it was sensibly it might be useful to look at it, you can obviously change the role a bit but you shouldn’t be weakening the role if you are going to come up with a revised version as a successor to Lord Geidt, some new format, some new way of dealing with the issue.”
Good morning and welcome to today’s politics live blog.
Downing Street is facing a backlash after it said yesterday that the role of the PM’s ethics adviser could be scrapped following Lord Geidt’s resignation.
Tory MPs have warned against the move and No 10 is under pressure to appoint a replacement as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, ministers are also facing calls to do more to help tackle the cost-of-living crisis amid growing fears the UK is heading for a recession.
There is lots going on in Westminster this morning and I will guide you through the key developments.