UK politics – live: Sex education to be axed for under 9s as Sunak urged to make Reform UK election deal

Rishi Sunak has announced a fresh crackdown on culture war issues with a ban on children under 9 to be taught about sex education and gender identity.

Policing minister Chris Philp said the EducationSecretary’s new measures on sex education are expected to come into force quickly.

According to reports, the new rules mean sex education will only be taught in primary schools until year five.

The guidance is the Government’s bid to tackle concerns that some children receiving age-inappropriate relationships, sex and health education (RSHE).

Speaking today, Mr Philp has also called on police forces to increase the use of stop and search as part to tougher measures to tackle knife crime.

Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg has urged Rishi Sunak to forge a general election pact with Reform UK inviting Nigel Farage and Richard Ticethe to become Tory candidates.

He said the deal would unite the Right of British politics and secure a victory at the next election.

It comes as the Tories hit the lowest poll rating since Liz Truss as Labour leads the way with more than 30 points, according to YouGov.

Key Points

  • Sex education to be scrapped for under 9s

  • Stop and search to be ramped up

  • Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg urges Sunak to forge pact with Reform UK

  • Lib Dems urge PM suspend Rees-Mogg after Reform UK pact proposal

  • Government defends rise in food bank use

Conservatives defend rising food bank use

09:15 , Salma Ouaguira

According to The Trussell Trust charity, a record of 31.million emergency food parcels have been handed in the last year.

That means a rise of a whopping 40% compared with five years ago.

Asked by Sky News about the skyrocketing figures, Chris Philp defended policies ministers have implemented.

He said: “We’ve seen food bank use grow across the Western world.

“What the government is doing is making sure that work pays, hence the huge increase in the minimum wage and making sure the benefits system is there to support people as a safety net.”

Lib Dems demand Rishi Sunak to suspend Rees-Mogg over Reform UK deal

09:06 , Salma Ouaguira

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Reform UK deal proposal hasn’t landed well among the Liberal Democrats.

Deputy leader Daisy Cooper is now calling Rishi Sunak to strip Rees-Mogg of Tory whip following the remarks.

Ms Cooper said: “The Conservative Party is a shambolic mess. Rishi Sunak’s MPs are in open revolt and he does not have the backbone to stand up to them.

“If the Prime Minister had any bottle he would suspend the whip from Rees-Mogg and rule out Nigel Farage being allowed into the Conservative Party.

“The public is sick to the back teeth of this endless Conservative soap opera as they watch the NHS crumble, filthy sewage pumped into their waterways and their mortgages spiral.

“Rishi Sunak should put us all out of our misery and call a general election.”

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg urges Sunak to make pact with Reform UK

09:02 , Salma Ouaguira

Following a disastrous local election, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg has urged Rishi Sunak to forge a general election deal with Reform UK.

This would give Nigel Farage and Richard Tice the chance to become Tory candidates.

The former business secretary called the PM to make a “big, open and comprehensive offer to those in Reform” to join the Conservatives.

He told GB News: “With the help of Nigel Farage in a Conservative government, as a Conservative minister, with Boris Johnson probably returning as foreign secretary and welcoming the likes of Ben Habib and Richard Tice into our party, as well as pursuing genuinely conservative policies, winning the next election suddenly becomes within reach.”

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg has opened the door for Nigel Farage to join the Conservative Party (Getty)Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg has opened the door for Nigel Farage to join the Conservative Party (Getty)

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg has opened the door for Nigel Farage to join the Conservative Party (Getty)

Stop and search to be ramped up, says Policing Minister

08:54 , Salma Ouaguira

Policing minister Chris Philp said he would like to see more stop and search from police to tackle knife crime.Speaking to LBC, he said: “I’d like to see officers of course use the power lawfully and also respectfully, but it does need to be, I think, used more to protect the public and particularly the kind of young men who often end up being victims of knife crime.”

Asked about the communities who could be disproportionately affected by stop and search, he said: “The sad truth is that young black men are disproportionately victims of knife crime and we’re doing this as much to protect them as anything else.”

He said the success rate of stop and searches are typically 25% to 30%.

He added: “That percentage is pretty much the same across something to within 1% across all ethnicities so that gives me quite a high degree of confidence that police are not unreasonably picking on particular parts of the community.”

Sex education to be scrapped for under 9s

08:50 , Salma Ouaguira

Policing minister Chris Philp said sex education will be banned for children from year five.

As part of the new guidance, schools will stop teaching on gender identity.

He told GB News: “As a parent as well, I don’t want my children, to be honest, to be exposed to inappropriate content at a pretty young age and nor do I want politically contested ideas like the trans issues being taught as if they’re facts.

“I think childhood is a really special time and I don’t think we need to introduce some of these ideas too early.

“So I think the changes that are likely to come are going to be very welcome and as I say, I know the Education Secretary will get on and do them as quickly as possible.

“As a parent I strongly welcome that.”

Here are the top stories this morning:

08:19 , Salma Ouaguira

MPs are set to appear in the Commons in the first PMQs since Elphicke’s defection (PA)MPs are set to appear in the Commons in the first PMQs since Elphicke’s defection (PA)

MPs are set to appear in the Commons in the first PMQs since Elphicke’s defection (PA)

Tuesday 14 May 2024 23:15 , Sam Rkaina

We’re pausing our live coverage of politics for the night but keep checking independent.co.uk for the latest updates.

Government urged to take over running of Parc Prison

Tuesday 14 May 2024 21:30 , Salma Ouaguira

MPs are calling the government to run the HMP Parc instead of private firm G4S.

It comes amid concerns over a spate of nine deaths since the end of February.

Four deaths have also been linked to substance misuse and another under investigation.

G4S has managed the establishment since it opened in 1997 and it received a 10-year contract to continue operating it in 2022.

Meanwhile in Belfast…

Tuesday 14 May 2024 21:00 , Salma Ouaguira

First Minister Michelle O’Neill has accepted she should have kept WhatsApp exchanges for the Covid-19 Inquiry rather than wiping her phone.

Lead counsel to the inquiry Clair Dobbin KC said retrieved WhatsApp exchanges between Ms O’Neill and Baroness Foster “do discuss substantive matters about the response to the pandemic”.

Ms O’Neill responded: “They may have been a to and fro in a conversation outside a meeting but the official record was the official record in terms of decisions made.

“Arlene and I couldn’t decide on a message to do something, we’d have to bring it to the Executive. So all decisions were recorded on the official record and in terms of what the civil service hold.”

Labour-commissioned report calls for caps on rent hikes

Tuesday 14 May 2024 20:30 , Salma Ouaguira

Rent hikes should be capped for people struggling to afford soaring rates, according to a report commissioned by the Labour Party.

Rises should be limited to either consumer price inflation or local wage growth – whichever is lower – in England and Wales, it found.

Stephen Cowan’s report, commissioned by Lisa Nandy as shadow housing secretary, recommends a swathe of measures to support renters struggling with the spiralling cost of living.

Click here to read the full story

In case you missed it: Chinese ambassador summoned to Foreign Office after three charged with spying

Tuesday 14 May 2024 20:00 , Salma Ouaguira

Chinese ambassador summoned to Foreign Office after three charged with spying

In full: No widespread abuse of UK graduate visa scheme, Home Office report finds

Tuesday 14 May 2024 19:30 , Salma Ouaguira

Home secretary James Cleverly commissioned experts to examine whether rising demand for study visas was being driven by a desire to migrate to the UK.

No widespread abuse of UK graduate visa scheme, Home Office report finds

Comment: Exclusive polling reveals the public don’t care if you’re a classy worker – or working class

Tuesday 14 May 2024 19:00 , Salma Ouaguira

New data has shown that, despite the emphasis on politicians’ roots, most voters don’t actually care about the class background of Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer.

Andrew Grice explains what that could mean for the parties’ election strategies.

Polling reveals the public don’t care if you’re a classy worker – or working class

Politics explained: Rainbow warrior: what’s behind Esther McVey’s attack on civil service lanyards?

Tuesday 14 May 2024 18:30 , Salma Ouaguira

The Tory minister for common sense has opened another front in the culture wars. Mary Dejevsky takes a look.

What’s behind Esther McVey’s attack on civil service lanyards?

Watch: Six ‘new’ ships are from Tory pledge two years ago, Shapps says

Tuesday 14 May 2024 18:10 , Salma Ouaguira

Grant Shapps was pressed on whether the up to six ships the government has pledged to build are from a Conservative pledge two years ago.

The defence secretary has claimed the UK was experiencing a “golden age” of shipbuilding, with “up to” 28 Royal Navy vessels either being constructed or planned.

When questioned if the vessels are “the same ones the government pledged to build two years ago”, Mr Shapps said: “Yes, we’ve signalled that we’d want to build new ships for our commandos. And that’s something we’ve said all along. What’s changed is we’re now able to do it because we’ve increased our defense spending.”

In full: Tory row over May-backed vote to bar MPs arrested for sex offences as Shapps calls it ‘wrong side of justice’

Tuesday 14 May 2024 17:50 , Salma Ouaguira

A Tory MP cleared after investigation into allegations of rape told The Independent he was ‘appalled’ but supporters say it brings Parliament into line with other workplaces.

Tory row over vote to bar MPs arrested for sex offences – ‘wrong side of justice’

Commons ban on sexual offenders MPs: Who voted what?

Tuesday 14 May 2024 17:30 , Salma Ouaguira

The House of Commons voted by 170 to 169 yesterday night to ban MPs who have been arrested for serious sexual offenses.

Here’s how some MPs voted:

  • Conservative MP James Cleverly – No

  • Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt – No

  • Conservative MP Therese Coffey – No

  • Conservative MP Ian Duncan Smith – No

  • Conservative MP Gillian Keegan – No

  • Conservative MP Grant Shapps – No

  • Conservative MP Theresa May – Yes

  • Green MP Caroline Lucas – Yes

  • Suspended Labour MP Diane Abbott – Yes

  • Labour MP Dawn Butler – Yes

  • Labour MP Alison McGovern – Yes

  • Labour MP Jess Philips – Yes

  • Labour MP Angela Rayner – Yes

Sturgeon to discuss intergovernmental relations in appearance at Westminster

Tuesday 14 May 2024 17:10 , Salma Ouaguira

Nicola Sturgeon will appear before Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee on July 1 after having previously cancelled an evidence session.

Ms Sturgeon, who resigned as First Minister last year after more than eight years in the role, will appear as part of the committee’s probe into intergovernmental relations in the first 25 years of devolution.

Former first ministers Alex Salmond, Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish have already appeared before the committee.

Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Lord Cameron have also provided written evidence to the committee.

Ms Sturgeon was due to appear on April 29, but it was announced the previous week her evidence would be rescheduled due to her “availability”.

The former first minister’s relationship with the UK Government under Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss was strained after her consistent push for another independence referendum for Scotland was repeatedly rejected by successive administrations.

Nicola Sturgeon will be grilled at the Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)Nicola Sturgeon will be grilled at the Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

Nicola Sturgeon will be grilled at the Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

Government denies moving asylum seekers from Scotland blocking legal aid

Tuesday 14 May 2024 17:00 , Salma Ouaguira

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has denied moving asylum seekers at risk of being deported from Scotland to England to block legal aid.

During justice questions in the Commons, Mr Chalk said: “The point about legal advice is really important. People should get legal advice so that they can make their points, that’s why we’re investing heavily.

“When the IMA (Illegal Migration Act) comes into force, there’ll be a 15% uplift, we’ve invested £1.5 billion to re-accredit senior case workers, and also we’re paying for travel time.

“We recognise, of course, this is robust legislation, necessarily robust. We’re also ensuring that people get the legal advice they need.”

‘Labour fully committed to workers’ rights,’ says party

Tuesday 14 May 2024 16:51 , Salma Ouaguira

Following a meeting with its affiliated trade unions, Labour has reinforced its commitment to its workers’ deal.

A joint statement from the party and Tulo (Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation) said: “Labour and the affiliated unions had a constructive discussion today.

“Together we have reiterated Labour’s full commitment to the New Deal for Working People, as agreed in July.

“We will continue to work together at pace on how a Labour government would implement it in legislation.”

It comes as Sir Keir Starmer faced backlash from unions after it emerged the deal would go through a consultation process with businesses.

Labour announces £3billion-a-year Ukraine spending

Tuesday 14 May 2024 16:45 , Salma Ouaguira

After Tory attacks on holding back to release a defence spending pledge, Labour finally releases its long-waited promise.

The party claims to splash at least £15 billion on military support for Ukraine.

Shadow secretary John Healey said he backs Rishi Sunak’s commitment to keep the aid until the end of the decade.

Spy row: Beijing accuses UK of anti-China political manoeuvring

Tuesday 14 May 2024 16:27 , Salma Ouaguira

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Chinese embassy said: “During the meeting, Ambassador Zheng made further serious representations to the UK side on the UK’s wrongful behaviour, including its unwarranted accusation against the (Hong Kong) government, and refuted the excuses made by the UK side.

“He was unequivocal that the UK must stop anti-China political manoeuvring and not go further down the dangerous path of jeopardising China-UK relations.”

It comes as Zheng Zeguang attended a Foreign Office meeting with government officials following the arrest of three men over “spying charges”.

China Ambassador Zheng Zeguang has accused the UK of wrongful behaviour (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)China Ambassador Zheng Zeguang has accused the UK of wrongful behaviour (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

China Ambassador Zheng Zeguang has accused the UK of wrongful behaviour (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Labour slams the pandemic treaty unacceptable

Tuesday 14 May 2024 16:20 , Salma Ouaguira

Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne said Labour would not sign the WHO pandemic treaty draft.

Mr Gwynne said: “The minister says the draft text is not acceptable, and I want to be clear that a Labour government would not sign anything which would leave our population unprotected in the face of a novel disease.

“We’re debating a treaty that is still being negotiated by member states, and none of us know the final content or wording, so can the minister reconfirm to the House that the Government will not sign up to anything that would compromise the UK’s ability to take domestic decisions on national public health measures?”

In response, Health minister Andrew Stephenson said the Government is “firmly fighting in Britain’s interest”, adding that the World Health Organisation has to “fully respect national sovereignty”.

Health Minister urges MPs to ignore myths by Nigel Farage

Tuesday 14 May 2024 15:54 , Salma Ouaguira

Andrew Stephenson has urged MPs to dismiss claims made by Nigel Farage about the treaty.

The Reform UK president previously said: “It will be binding on us, under international law.

“It would give the World Health Organisation the ability, number one, to take away 20% of our PPE and vaccines to give to other parts of the world.”

“Give them the power to dictate behaviour, such as mask mandates, such as not being able to travel without being jabbed goodness knows how many times and, the really big one, they would be able to say to us, this is now a global pandemic, you must lock down.”

Honorary President of the Reform UK party Nigel Farage has heavily criticised the treaty (REUTERS)Honorary President of the Reform UK party Nigel Farage has heavily criticised the treaty (REUTERS)

Honorary President of the Reform UK party Nigel Farage has heavily criticised the treaty (REUTERS)

Commons: MPs debate WHO pandemic treaty

Tuesday 14 May 2024 15:40 , Salma Ouaguira

The House of Commons is currently debating a proposed World Health Organisation pandemic treaty.

After the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide leaders vowed to do better next time by setting up a set of agreements.

But many Tory MPs are sceptical and refuse to implement the international accord.

Suella Braverman said: “Under no circumstances must we surrender our sovereignty or sign-up to a lockdown treaty.”

Rwanda in chaos: Tory MPs urge Sunak to correct ‘defective’ law

Tuesday 14 May 2024 15:30 , Salma Ouaguira

With the Illegal Migration Act put into chaos by the Belfast High Court ruling, many Tories are urging the PM for an emergency legislation.

Conservative former minister Sir John Redwood said: “We voted in a referendum to end the rule of EU law throughout the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.

“Isn’t the only way out of this – given the muddle the courts are creating – is to have an urgent, short piece of legislation which asserts beyond doubt that we control our own borders?”

Sir Christopher Chope, Tory MP for Christchurch, added: “Why is it that the Government is not going to directly legislate to deal with this situation – that the legislation is defective. If we go to appeal and we find the appeal is rejected then we’ve lost a lot more time.

“Why don’t we act now to legislate and sort out this mess?”

Government to announce £40m package for brain tumour research

Tuesday 14 May 2024 15:20 , Salma Ouaguira

A £40 million Government package to help develop new life-saving brain tumour research is due to be announced.

The funding, which was first committed to by the Government in 2018, will be announced at a Parliamentary roundtable co-chaired by Health Minister Andrew Stephenson and chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Lucy Chappell.

The investment will be used to help develop new treatments for brain tumours, as well as improve patient care, support and rehabilitation.

It comes amid a collaboration between the Government, NIHR, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission (TJBCM), research funders and other charities.

Click here to read the full story

Suella Braverman: ‘Sunak’s Brexit deal has failed’

Tuesday 14 May 2024 15:00 , Salma Ouaguira

The former Home Secretary has attacked the PM’s Northern Ireland Brexit deal claiming it failed as soon as it has been put to practice.

It comes Sunak’s Rwanda bill collapsed after the high court deemed some parts incompatible with the Withdrawal Agreement Act.

Speaking in the Commons, she said: “I believed the assurances made to me at the time.

“But isn’t it now patently clear that the Windsor Framework has operated in a way to undermine our sovereignty, to undermine Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.

“And I’m afraid has fundamentally failed upon its first contact with reality.”

Suella Braverma visited Rwanda in March 2023 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)Suella Braverma visited Rwanda in March 2023 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)

Suella Braverma visited Rwanda in March 2023 (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)

Grant Shapps doesn’t mind rainbow lanyards

Tuesday 14 May 2024 14:53 , Salma Ouaguira

The Defence Secretary has opened up about Esther McVey’s “anti-woke” plans to ban rainbow lanyards among civil servants.

Mr Shapps said: “Personally, I don’t mind people expressing their views on these things. It doesn’t, you know, what lanyard somebody wears, doesn’t particularly concern me.

“But I do think – and this is where I think Esther McVey has a point – that what we want is our civil servants to be getting on with the main job. And the main job is to serve the department they work for, in my case, defence, but across Whitehall.

“I think she was getting at the idea that that should be the focus for civil servants.”

Brexit blamed for UK immigration policy chaos

Tuesday 14 May 2024 14:48 , David Maddox

Brexiteers “should have considered the consequences of their actions” before complaining about a high court ruling which has potentially left UK immigration policy in chaos, a leading Northern Ireland MP has claimed.

Belfast South SDLP MP Claire Hanna’s intervention came as immigration minister Tom Pursglove was answering an urgent question in the Commons on the rulong by the court in Northern Ireland that the Illegal Immigration Act does not apply in that part of the UK.

Mr Pursglove insisted that the government “will appeal the decision” but came under fire from both sides of the House as Tory Brexiteer MPs joined the Opposition in condemning the chaos left in the UK’s immigration system.

Click here to read the full story

‘Labour will restore trust in politicians,’ Shadow Leader says

Tuesday 14 May 2024 14:37 , David Maddox

Labour shadow sommons leader and Manchester Central MP Lucy Powell has promised the party will restore trust if elected.

The Manchester Central MP said UK politics is suffering from lack of confidence after scandals over expenses, sleaze, cronyism and Partygate.

Ms Powell added: “I’m not laying all this at the door of the Conservatives – there are bad apples everywhere who reflect badly on us all – but I think the sheer scale we’ve seen in this Parliament really means that we’ve reached rock bottom.”

Shadow Commons leader Lucy Powell is convinced the party can bring trust back to UK politics (PA Archive)Shadow Commons leader Lucy Powell is convinced the party can bring trust back to UK politics (PA Archive)

Shadow Commons leader Lucy Powell is convinced the party can bring trust back to UK politics (PA Archive)

Rishi Sunak gets new blow in the polls

Tuesday 14 May 2024 14:32 , Salma Ouaguira

Three in four Brits think the Prime Minister won’t get the keys of Downing Street at the upcoming general election.

Mr Sunak has been slapped with a whopping 75% of the votes from people who think he is very unlikely he will win, according to an Ipsos poll.

Sturgeon to discuss intergovernmental relations in appearance at Westminster

Tuesday 14 May 2024 14:15 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

Nicola Sturgeon will appear before Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee on July 1 after having previously cancelled an evidence session.

Ms Sturgeon, who resigned as First Minister last year after more than eight years in the role, will appear as part of the committee’s probe into intergovernmental relations in the first 25 years of devolution.

Former first ministers Alex Salmond, Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish have already appeared before the committee.

Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Lord Cameron have also provided written evidence to the committee.

Ms Sturgeon was due to appear on April 29, but it was announced the previous week her evidence would be rescheduled due to her “availability”.

The former first minister’s relationship with the UK Government under Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss was strained after her consistent push for another independence referendum for Scotland was repeatedly rejected by successive administrations.

 (PA Wire) (PA Wire)

(PA Wire)

China poses ‘genuine and increasing’ cyber risk to UK, GCHQ chief warns

Tuesday 14 May 2024 13:48 , Maryam Zakir-Hussain

The “irresponsible actions” of Chinese state-backed hackers are making the internet less secure for the world, a British spy chief warned.

GCHQ director Anne Keast-Butler said responding to the “coercive and destabilising actions” of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was her “top priority”.

She also highlighted the “immediate threats” posed by Russia and Iran, carrying out actions ranging from cyber attacks, espionage and surveillance.

China poses ‘genuine and increasing’ cyber risk to UK, GCHQ chief warns

‘Nothing will distract us from sending flights to Rwanda,’ No 10 says

Tuesday 14 May 2024 13:30 , Salma Ouaguira

Downing Street has vowed to stick to the Rwanda plan despite high court ruling.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The judgement changes nothing about our operational plans to send illegal migrants to Rwanda or the lawfulness of our Safety of Rwanda Act.

“We are continuing to work to get flights off the ground in the coming weeks. Nothing will distract us from that.”

It comes after a high court judge in Belfast declared the Illegal Migration Act unapplicable in Northern Ireland.

The FDA union previously claimed parts of the Rwanda scheme would force civil servants to act in breach of a requirement to comply with international law (Toby Melville/PA) (PA Wire)The FDA union previously claimed parts of the Rwanda scheme would force civil servants to act in breach of a requirement to comply with international law (Toby Melville/PA) (PA Wire)

The FDA union previously claimed parts of the Rwanda scheme would force civil servants to act in breach of a requirement to comply with international law (Toby Melville/PA) (PA Wire)

‘Gender identity not to be taught as fact in schools,’ No 10 says

Tuesday 14 May 2024 13:20 , Salma Ouaguira

Downing Street claims the idea that someone can have a gender identity. different from that of their sex is a “contested political belief”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman added: “As you will be aware the PM ordered a review of this guidance, this RSHE teaching in schools, following concerns that inappropriate content was being taught.

“We believe parents have a fundamental right to see materials being used in these lessons and the Education Secretary also made that clear when she wrote to parents in October last year.

“The review… will build on this, making sure that children are always taught sensitive content in an appropriate way.

“However, what I would say is we have been consistent that the idea that someone can have a gender identity different from their sex is a contested political belief that must not be taught as fact in our schools.”

Rishi Sunak and and Britain's Education Secretary Gillian Keegan (POOL/AFP/Getty)Rishi Sunak and and Britain's Education Secretary Gillian Keegan (POOL/AFP/Getty)

Rishi Sunak and and Britain’s Education Secretary Gillian Keegan (POOL/AFP/Getty)

In full: Tory row over May-backed vote to bar MPs arrested for sex offences as Shapps calls it ‘wrong side of justice’

Tuesday 14 May 2024 13:10 , Salma Ouaguira

A Tory MP cleared after investigation into allegations of rape told The Independent he was ‘appalled’ but supporters say it brings Parliament into line with other workplaces.

Tory row over vote to bar MPs arrested for sex offences – ‘wrong side of justice’

‘Gov will defend position that migration bill is legal,’ Tory minister says

Tuesday 14 May 2024 12:56 , Salma Ouaguira

Minister for legal migration Tom Pursglove has spoken at the Commons about the Illegal Migration Act.

In his speech, he said the government is disappointed by the high court ruling to disapply parts of the bill in Northern Ireland.

Despite the judge’s decision, he is convinced the bill is legal and compatible with international law.

Mr Pursglove says: “The government will take all steps to defend its position, including through and appeal.

“Nothing will distract us from that.”

Tom Pursglove is defending the controversial Rwanda bill at the House of Commons (PA Media)Tom Pursglove is defending the controversial Rwanda bill at the House of Commons (PA Media)

Tom Pursglove is defending the controversial Rwanda bill at the House of Commons (PA Media)

‘Universities to focus on education, not immigration,’ PM urges

Tuesday 14 May 2024 12:45 , Salma Ouaguira

No 10 has urged UK universities to prioritise British students over international ones.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “(The Prime Minister) has said before that British students should be the priority for our education system and universities and student visas must be used for education, not immigration.

“We are focused on driving down migration whilst ensuring the UK attracts the best and the brightest, and we will study the MAC’s findings and outline our approach on the graduate route in due course.”

It comes as universities across the country have been accused of “bad practice” by agents recruiting overseas students.

But government advisers said without international students UK universities would shrink.

‘Zero tolerance on Chinese interference,’ Conservative MP warns

Tuesday 14 May 2024 12:35 , Salma Ouaguira

Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman and Conservative MP Alicia Kearns has warned the UK won’t tolerate foreign interference.

Welcoming the summoning of the Chinese ambassador, she said: “This is a relief to hear and long overdue.

“Hostile interference on UK soil is a serious issue for which we should have absolutely zero tolerance.

“We must be absolute on that with all countries.”

Chinese ambassador Zheng Zeguang has been called to a meeting Foreign Office following the arrest of three men for ‘spying for Hong Kong’ (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)Chinese ambassador Zheng Zeguang has been called to a meeting Foreign Office following the arrest of three men for ‘spying for Hong Kong’ (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Chinese ambassador Zheng Zeguang has been called to a meeting Foreign Office following the arrest of three men for ‘spying for Hong Kong’ (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Spy row: PM thanks police for charging three men accused of spying

Tuesday 14 May 2024 12:30 , Salma Ouaguira

Rishi Sunak has thanked the police following the charging of three men with offences under the National Security Act.

His official spokesman said: “The charging of the three individuals under the National Security Act is deeply concerning and the PM thanks the police for their work keeping us safe.”

“More broadly, we are continuously monitoring possible espionage routes.

“We have taken unprecedented steps to protect the UK from interference through the National Security Act to deter states from operating against the UK, but as you can appreciate I can’t get into the details on this specific case.”

Legal migration numbers too high, No 10 says

Tuesday 14 May 2024 12:27 , Salma Ouaguira

Downing Street says the legal migration levels are too high after the Migration Advisory Committee released a new report on foreign students.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The PM has been clear that legal migration numbers are too high. We are working to bring those down.

“We have already seen a significant fall, a 24 per cent fall, following the introduction of reforms previously introduced.

“But he still thinks there is further to go. We are committed to attracting the best and brightest to study at our world class universities whilst preventing the abuse of our immigration system which is why we commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee’s review of the graduate route.”

Pictured: Rishi Sunak at the Farm to Fork summit in Downing Street

Tuesday 14 May 2024 12:24 , Salma Ouaguira

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks in the garden of 10 Downing Street (Toby Melville/PA Wire)Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks in the garden of 10 Downing Street (Toby Melville/PA Wire)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks in the garden of 10 Downing Street (Toby Melville/PA Wire)

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a loaf of bread as he visits stalls (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a loaf of bread as he visits stalls (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a loaf of bread as he visits stalls (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Sunak eating fruit from Berry Gardens Growers (REUTERS)Mr Sunak eating fruit from Berry Gardens Growers (REUTERS)

Mr Sunak eating fruit from Berry Gardens Growers (REUTERS)

Threats come from spying and cyber attacks, Grant Shapps says

Tuesday 14 May 2024 12:21 , Salma Ouaguira

During the Sea Power Conference, the Defence Secretary has been asked about the spy row with China.

Although he refused to comment directly on the allegations, he recognised UK threats come not only from warfare but from spying and cyber attacks.

He added the arrests are “a sign that the law we passed is working to do the thing we said it was supposed to do”.

‘A new military age’: Shapps speech at Sea Power Conference

Tuesday 14 May 2024 12:17 , Salma Ouaguira

The defence secretary has delivered a speech unveiling the Conservatives’ MoD spending plan.

Here are the key takeaways of what he said:

‘New warships at risk with Labour,’ Grant Shapps says

Tuesday 14 May 2024 12:05 , Salma Ouaguira

The Defence Secretary has accused the Labour Party of axing the newly commissioned Royal Navy ships if they get elected.

Boasting about his pledge to rise MoD spending, he said the new six vessels were only possible thanks to the Tories.

Spy row: What has China said about the accusations?

Tuesday 14 May 2024 11:47 , Salma Ouaguira

Following the detention of the three men, China reacted with fury condemning the UK’s spying accusations.

A spokesperson from the embassy in London said: “We strongly condemn the UK’s unwarranted accusation against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government.”

Ex-Home Secretary Suella Braverman also responded to the charges, adding: “If we are serious about national security we must… declare China a hostile state.”

In full: Who are the people charged for spying on the UK?

Tuesday 14 May 2024 11:16 , Salma Ouaguira

Three men were charged yesterday accused of assisting the Hong Kong intelligence service.

Chi Leung (Peter) Wai, 38, Matthew Trickett, 37, and Chung Biu Yuen, 63, spoke only to confirm their identities at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

It is alleged that between 20 December 2023 and 2 May 2024, Yuen, Wai and Trickett agreed to undertake information gathering, surveillance and acts of deception that were likely to materially assist a foreign intelligence service.

Click here to read the full story

Chung Biu Yuen (left) and Chi Leung Wai (right) leave Westminster Magistrates’ Court, central London (PA)Chung Biu Yuen (left) and Chi Leung Wai (right) leave Westminster Magistrates’ Court, central London (PA)

Chung Biu Yuen (left) and Chi Leung Wai (right) leave Westminster Magistrates’ Court, central London (PA)

Breaking: Foreign Office summons Chinese ambassador over UK spies

Tuesday 14 May 2024 11:00 , Salma Ouaguira

The Chinese ambassador is attending a Foreign Office meeting following the charges of three people for spying for Hong Kong.

Zheng Zeguang is meeting officials who will question him over clams China interfered on UK soil.

A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) spokesman, said: “Today, on instruction from the Foreign Secretary, the Chinese Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

“The FCDO was unequivocal in setting out that the recent pattern of behaviour directed by China against the UK including cyber-attacks, reports of espionage links and the issuing of bounties is not acceptable.

“The summons followed Monday’s announcement that three people have been charged with offences under the National Security Act as part of an investigation led by officers from the Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Command. The foreign intelligence service to which the charges relate is that of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.”

Chinese Ambassador Zheng Zeguang is meeting government officials at the Foreign Office (Supplied)Chinese Ambassador Zheng Zeguang is meeting government officials at the Foreign Office (Supplied)

Chinese Ambassador Zheng Zeguang is meeting government officials at the Foreign Office (Supplied)

Meanwhile in Belfast…

Tuesday 14 May 2024 10:52 , Salma Ouaguira

First Minister Michelle O’Neil has been grilled as she appeared before the Covid-19 inquiry to give evidence.

The Sinn Fein leader is being questioned about attending the funeral of IRA member Bobby Storey while the nation was engulfed in lockdown during the pandemic.

During the hearing, she has apologised for the hurt she had caused.

“I know that my actions also angered the families and for that I’m truly sorry. I am sorry for going and I’m sorry for the harm that’s been caused after (it),” she said.

In full: China poses ‘genuine and increasing’ cyber risk to UK, GCHQ chief warns

Tuesday 14 May 2024 10:48 , Salma Ouaguira

The “irresponsible actions” of Chinese state-backed hackers are making the internet less secure for the world, a British spy chief warned.

GCHQ director Anne Keast-Butler said responding to the “coercive and destabilising actions” of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was her “top priority”.

She also highlighted the “immediate threats” posed by Russia and Iran, carrying out actions ranging from cyber attacks, espionage and surveillance.

Click here to read the full story

Pictured: Grant Shapps is leaving Downing Street after a Cabinet Meeting

Tuesday 14 May 2024 10:39 , Salma Ouaguira

The Defence Secretary has been very vocal against Labour and has criticised the recent Commons vote to ban MPs arrested for violent or sexual offences (Lucy North/PA Wire)The Defence Secretary has been very vocal against Labour and has criticised the recent Commons vote to ban MPs arrested for violent or sexual offences (Lucy North/PA Wire)

The Defence Secretary has been very vocal against Labour and has criticised the recent Commons vote to ban MPs arrested for violent or sexual offences (Lucy North/PA Wire)

Suspending arrested MPs is ‘on the wrong side of justice’, Grant Shapps says

Tuesday 14 May 2024 10:29 , Salma Ouaguira

Defence secretary Grant Shapps has criticised barring MPs from Parliament for being arrested for violent or sexual offences.

The Tory MP said: “In the end, Parliament has made the decision, and I respect the votes in Parliament.

“Of course it could look at it again, if it needed to. But for me, it does seem to be just on the wrong side of natural justice and that’s why I voted to say you should wait for a charge.

“But there are passionate arguments in both directions. And I can see you can make that argument in both directions. I thought it’s slightly the wrong side of the line, parliament’s decided. That’s why we get to vote on these things.”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has criticised the results from yesterday’s vote at the House of Commons (PA Wire)Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has criticised the results from yesterday’s vote at the House of Commons (PA Wire)

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has criticised the results from yesterday’s vote at the House of Commons (PA Wire)

Commons ban on sexual offenders MPs: Who voted what?

Tuesday 14 May 2024 10:25 , Salma Ouaguira

The House of Commons voted by 170 to 169 yesterday night to ban MPs who have been arrested for serious sexual offenses.

Here’s how some MPs voted:

  • Conservative MP James Cleverly – No

  • Conservative MP Penny Mordaunt – No

  • Conservative MP Therese Coffey – No

  • Conservative MP Ian Duncan Smith – No

  • Conservative MP Gillian Keegan – No

  • Conservative MP Grant Shapps – No

  • Conservative MP Theresa May – Yes

  • Green MP Caroline Lucas – Yes

  • Suspended Labour MP Diane Abbott – Yes

  • Labour MP Dawn Butler – Yes

  • Labour MP Alison McGovern – Yes

  • Labour MP Jess Philips – Yes

  • Labour MP Angela Rayner – Yes

‘Graduate visa route should stay,’ gov migration advisers say

Tuesday 14 May 2024 10:09 , Salma Ouaguira

The visa scheme allows international students to stay in the UK for two or three years after graduation.

Following a government-commissioned review into the graduate visa route, advisers have concluded it should remain as it is.

Home Secretary James Cleverly previously said the visa is driven by a desire to immigration rather than education.

But, in a fresh blow for the Conservative government, migration experts said it is“not undermining the integrity of and quality of the UK higher education system.”

Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group said “The overall message from the MAC is that the graduate route is achieving its objectives as set out by the Government.”

Analysis: Rishi Sunak pushes the nuclear general election button

Tuesday 14 May 2024 09:49 , Salma Ouaguira

The Prime Minister has fired the starting gun on the long election campaign.

He warned the world is going through its most dangerous period since the Cold War, David Maddox writes.

Rishi Sunak pushes the nuclear general election button

Pictured: Rishi Sunak at the 80th anniversary of D-Day

Tuesday 14 May 2024 09:41 , Salma Ouaguira

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the start of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's (CWGC) Torch of Commemoration relay today. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the start of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's (CWGC) Torch of Commemoration relay today. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the start of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Torch of Commemoration relay today. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

The ceremony marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. (AFP via Getty Images)The ceremony marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. (AFP via Getty Images)

The ceremony marks the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. (AFP via Getty Images)

To start the relay the torch is being passed from a veteran, to a serving officer, a cadet and a CWGC volunteer - symbolising the of the message of D-Day being passed through the generations. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)To start the relay the torch is being passed from a veteran, to a serving officer, a cadet and a CWGC volunteer - symbolising the of the message of D-Day being passed through the generations. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

To start the relay the torch is being passed from a veteran, to a serving officer, a cadet and a CWGC volunteer – symbolising the of the message of D-Day being passed through the generations. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

In full: Labour-commissioned report calls for caps on rent hikes

Tuesday 14 May 2024 09:35 , Salma Ouaguira

The report said rent rises should be limited to either consumer price inflation or local wage growth, whichever is lower, in England and Wales.

Labour-commissioned report calls for caps on rent hikes

‘Economic whack-a-mole’: More backlash from Lib Dems

Tuesday 14 May 2024 09:30 , Salma Ouaguira

Lib Dems’ Treasury spokesperson said today’s jobless figures show the Conservatives have been playing an “economic whack-a-mole for too long”.

Sarah Olney added: “After years of economic chaos, these are concerning figures.

“The Conservative government has played economic whack-a-mole for too long, unable to grow the economy, and now too many face the prospect of losing their job.

“The public has lost all faith in the Conservative party to manage the British economy. Our economy desperately needs a general election.”

Labour MP Alison McGovern brands unemployment rates damning

Tuesday 14 May 2024 09:26 , Salma Ouaguira

The Wirral South MP hasn’t hold back on addressing the skyrocketing unemployment rates.

She accused Rishi Sunak of being responsible of keeping Brits locked out of work and pushing the NHS to its knees.

Ms McGovern said: “The morning after Rishi Sunak told us his plan was working, these damning new figures prove that things are just getting worse: employment down, economic inactivity up and unemployment rising.

“It’s no wonder there are now a record number of people locked out of work due to long-term sickness, given NHS waiting lists are spiralling and the Tories have pushed our NHS to its knees.

“It’s Labour who have the plan to get Britain working by driving down waiting lists, reforming job centres, making work pay and supporting people into good jobs across every part of the country. Change with Labour can’t come soon enough.”

Labour speaks up on defence spending plans

Tuesday 14 May 2024 09:16 , Salma Ouaguira

With Grant Shapps accusing the party of being a threat to UK defence, Labour frontbencher Alison McGovern has hit back.

The shadow work and pensions secretary said the party won’t unveil their pledge until they have access to the books.

She told Sky News: “Our record in government bears out that we invested in defence, because nothing matters more than the security of the nation.”

Addressing Conservatives’ criticism, she said it’s “a bit odd” as Tory defence ministers said the armed forces had been “hollowed out on their watch”.

Tories referred to watchdog over ‘data breach’

Tuesday 14 May 2024 09:01 , Salma Ouaguira

The Conservatives’ registration team allegedly copied over 300 email addresses to sign up users for its annual party conference.

After apologising for the breach, the party announced it had referred itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Slamming the incident, a Labour source said: “On the day Rishi Sunak proclaims the Tories as the great protectors of our national security, it turns out they can’t even protect a database of contacts. You couldn’t make it up.

“The country can’t risk another five years of the Conservatives, who have hollowed out our armed forces and turned Britain’s borders into a sieve.”

The alleged breach emerged the same day Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave a speech on national security (PA Wire)The alleged breach emerged the same day Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave a speech on national security (PA Wire)

The alleged breach emerged the same day Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave a speech on national security (PA Wire)

‘Labour is a danger to UK defence,’ slams Grant Shapps

Tuesday 14 May 2024 08:50 , Salma Ouaguira

The Defence Secretary has accused the Labour Party of failing to match the Conservatives’ defence spending pledge.

Rishi Sunak previously promised his government will increase support to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030.

Although Labour said it will attempt to hit the same target if it gets elected, it doesn’t seem to satisfy the Tories.

Mr Shapps told Sky News this morning: “You can’t wish your way to more defence spending. You have to set out the plans and do it and that is why our plans now are fundamentally different to Labour.

“And I have to say as Defence Secretary with everything that I know in this role that I think that the Labour position presents a danger to this country because it will send a signal to our adversaries that we are not serious about our defence, if we won’t set out that timetable.”

Good morning and welcome to our politics live blog

Tuesday 14 May 2024 08:23 , Salma Ouaguira

Here are the top stories from today:

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has unveiled six new warships (PA) (PA Wire)Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has unveiled six new warships (PA) (PA Wire)

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has unveiled six new warships (PA) (PA Wire)

Shapps not strong-arming Ukraine into accepting Russia peace deal

Tuesday 14 May 2024 08:10 , Salma Ouaguira

Defence secretary Grant Shapps has announced the UK would not try to strong-arm Ukraine into accepting a peace deal with Russia.

Speaking toTimes Radio, he said: “There is no sense at all in which Britain would try to persuade, strong-arm or otherwise, Ukraine into accepting giving up some of their territory – that’s a decision entirely for Ukraine.

“I don’t think it’s plausible at all for Putin to win this war.

“If you give a bully like Putin an inch they’ll take a mile, and in this case they will take, probably would take quite a lot of not just Ukraine, but I’m not sure he would stop there either.

“What Ukraine does and how it decides to bring this to an end is their business. What I can confirm is that the UK will back Ukraine all the way.”