Politics news - latest: Number 10 doesn't deny claim top civil servant may have failed to pass on written Dominic Raab complaint (2023)

Key points
  • Rishi Sunak has full confidence in top civil servant - as Number 10 fails to deny report he may not have passed on Dominic Raab complaint
  • Rob Powell: Downing Street response has striking similarities to handling of Nadhim Zahawi affair
  • What you need to know about the Raab controversy|Who is Cabinet Secretary Simon Case?
  • Another headache looms for PM as BBC chairman and former adviser set to be grilled by MPs
  • Beth Rigby:There's little warm glow around Rishi Sunak's leadership - but supporters see 'very narrow path' to victory at next election
  • The U-turns and scandals of his premiership so far
  • Live reporting by Tim Baker


Truss to give 'hawkish' speech on China

As our political correspondent Mhari Aurora reported yesterday, Liz Truss appears to be circling the wagons and preparing for her comeback to the political stage.

And now we hear part of the return will be a "hawkish" speech on China, expected to put pressure on her successor Rishi Sunak.

The former PM - who became the UK's shortest serving premier after her resignation in October - will address a conference of international politicians in Japan later this month, with her speech billed as centring on Beijing's threat to Taiwan.

She is also expected to be joined by two other former prime ministers, Australia's Scott Morrison and Belgium's Guy Verhofstadt.

An ally of Ms Truss said: "She's expected to address Sunak's decision to brand China a strategic competitor rather than a threat."


Who is Cabinet Secretary Simon Case?

The youngest cabinet secretary in more than a century, Simon Case was appointed to his role by Boris Johnson.

There are now questions about what Mr Case knew about Dominic Raab and the bullying allegations against him.

He has also been in the headlines over the Richard Sharp matter, where the BBC chair was appointed to the role after helping Mr Johnson secure an £800,000 loan while he was PM.

As a civil servant, Mr Case tends to be unable to publicly comment and defend himself.

Political correspondent Amanda Akass explains all you need to know about Mr Case.


Who is striking, when they're walking out and why

Tuesday saw the UK's biggest day of industrial action in more than a decade as teachers, university staff, train drivers, civil servants, bus drivers and security guards all went on strike.

But this is far from the end of the industrial action, with train drivers walking out today and tens of thousands of workers set to stage further strikes in the coming weeks and months.

Read more about the industrial action - and why it is taking place - here:


Beth Rigby on Raab and Zahawi. Plus, guest Mike Pompeo

Political editor Beth Rigby sits down with Mike Pompeo, secretary of state during President Trump's administration, and a former CIA director - the first person to have held both positions.

He says President Xi of China is a bigger threat to the world than Russia's Vladimir Putin - and accuses President Biden of weakness and allowing the war in Ukraine to happen.

Plus, producer Mollie Malone joins to debrief on the political stories from the UK this week, including accusations against Deputy PM Dominic Raab and Nadhim Zahawi’s sacking as Conservative Party chairman, as well as answering more listener emails.

On the Zahawi and Raab controversies, Beth says: "Rishi Sunak stood on the steps of Number 10 and said, I will lead a government of integrity and accountability.

"Every time there is a sort of sleaze or scandal or bullying allegations levelled at someone in his cabinet, the first question is, well, if you lead a government of integrity, why did you put this person into your cabinet?

"And then if he can't clearly defend the fact that he was completely unaware of it, it's uncomfortable for him."

You can email the team at bethrigbypodcast@sky.uk.

Click to subscribe to Beth Rigby Interviews… wherever you get your podcasts


Runners and riders to replace Zahawi as Conservative Party chair

Speculation is continuing about who will replace Nadhim Zahawi as Conservative Party chair after he was sacked over his tax affairs last weekend.

These are the runners and riders for the role:


Lib Dems hit out as attempt to ban prepayment meters fails

Many companies have, in the past couple of days, announced they will no longer be forcing customers to have prepayment meters installed.

It comes following an investigation by The Times which found workers on behalf of British Gas breaking into people's homes to put the meters in place.

The Liberal Democrats were trying today to introduce a bill which enshrine in law a ban on the installation of prepayment meters.

But they were not able to do so, with the party saying the government prevented it from being debated in the Commons.

But several pieces of legislation proposed were due to be debated first, meaning the Commons did not have enough time to get to it.

Wera Hobhouse, the Lib Dem's energy spokesperson said the legislation would go further than the action outlined by regulator Ofgem, which has asked companies to review their use of prepayment meter warrants.

"This bill has been in front of parliament since early December, but the Conservative government chose to ignore it," she said.

"Only after a scandal and shocking revelations about energy companies prying on vulnerable people did the regulator, Ofgem, finally act.

"It is too little, too late.

"My bill would go further than the regulator, by banning the installation of prepayment meters for a period of time to get people through this difficult winter and to investigate any rogue practices.

"With the government shunning the fastest way to help these people who become victims of predatory energy firms, families and pensioners across the country will be worried about how they will keep the heating and lights on."

Speaking on Thursday, the prime minister's spokesman said the reports about British Gas were "deeply shocking and concerning".

"Vulnerable families should not be treated so poorly, British Gas has rightly now suspended this practice," he said, before adding: "There are circumstances in which prepayment meters are allowed but it does not appear, from reports, that this is happening in this case."

You can read more background to the story here:


Terminally ill ex-MP swears oath to the King in Lords

Lord Field of Birkenhead was MP for the Merseyside constituency for 40 years from 1979.

He was cheered today in the House of Lords as he gave his oath to the King from a wheelchair - his first appearance in the upper chamber for nearly two years.

Lord Field spent most of his time in the Commons as a Labour MP, before resigning the party whip in 2018 while Jeremy Corbyn was leader.

He has a terminal illness, but had previously spoken about his desire to swear the oath to the King.

Lord Field was ennobled in 2020, and sits as a crossbench peer.

He waved to other members of the Lords as they shouted "hear, hear" in support of him.

Lord Field told the Observer recently: "I'm pretty tired. It's a strange experience taking so long to die. But there we are.

"It's affected my mouth, as you can see. It began about 10 years ago, when I was told I had prostate cancer. The hospital said, we must keep a watching brief on this. And they didn't. It spread everywhere."

Lord Field visited a hospice in 2021, adding: "I expected to be gone then, within weeks. And the doctors that spoke to me did as well. But life has gone on."


Labour support double that of Tories in latest poll

The Tory's dismal polling continues, with new research in the wake of Nadhim Zahawi being sacked showing the party continuing to lag behind Sir Keir Starmer's Labour.

YouGov asked 2,006 people on Tuesday and Wednesday who they would support in a general election.

They found that some 48% would choose Labour, while just 24% would pick the Tories.

Labour's support rose by three points when compared to the week before, while support for the Conservatives fell by two points.

The demographics in which Rishi Sunak's party enjoys more support than Labour are 2019 Conservative Voters - by 60% to 17%, Leave voters - by 42% to 31%, and those aged over 65 - by 43% to 28%.

Meanwhile, fewer than half of 2019 Lib Dem voters (46%) said they would vote for the party again.


Man guilty of making social media post threatening assassination of Sturgeon

William Curtis has been convicted of sending threatening messages to Scotland's first minister in 2019.

The 70-year-old was also convicted of the same offence against former MSP Stewart Stevenson.

Jurors at the High Court in Glasgow threw out Curtis's defence that someone else had incriminated him when sending messages to Mr Stevenson.

A Facebook post read out at the trial suggested plans to perform a "citizen's arrest" on Nicola Sturgeon for "treason".

It added that her "criminal activities warrants assassination" for her and her ministers - and anyone who "conspired" with the first minister.

Curtis, and another man called Philip Mitchell, 60, were also found to have assaulted and abducted a sheriff in Aberdeenshire in June 2021.

The pair will be sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh next month.


MPs pass bill designed to help pregnant women and new parents stay in work

TheProtection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill has cleared the Commons and will now head to the Lords for further scrutiny.

It aims to beef up employment rights for new mothers and mothers-to-be by protecting them against redundancy for longer.

New powers would be created to protect women from redundancy during and after pregnancy, while existing regulations will be changed to protect parents from redundancy upon their return to work from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

Proposed by Labour MP Dan Jarvis, the bill passed through the Commons unopposed.

He said the bill will "make a real difference to over 50,000 pregnant women and new parents each year".

"Many of us here know all too well the trials and tribulations of becoming a new parent," Mr Jarvis told the Commons.

"Everything can be a worry. How quickly or slowly your newborn is hitting milestones - breastfeeding, rolling over, sitting, crawling, a never-ending list of questions racing through your mind.

"A lot of these worries are about issues that are beyond our control, but today we have the chance to alleviate some of that anxiety by ensuring that one of the things new parents are less worried about is whether they will have a job to return to after taking parental leave."

Mr Jarvis said the bill will mean that "a statutory duty will be placed on employers to prioritise soon-to-be and new parents in a redundancy situation, by offering them, not inviting them to apply for, a suitable alternative vacancy if their job becomes at risk".

Minister Kevin Hollinrake said the government was "pleased" to support the legislation.

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