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Politics latest news: Boris Johnson accused of launching ‘back of the envelope’ policies as he seeks to reset premiership

Politics latest news: Boris Johnson accused of launching ‘back of the envelope’ policies as he seeks to reset premiership

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Boris Johnson was accused of launching “back of the envelope” policies as he sought to reset his premiership with a wide-ranging speech.

Speaking in Blackpool, Mr Johnson labelled the UK’s rising tax burden an “aberration” and said the overall tax burden was now “very high” and must be tackled “sooner than later”. 

Mr Johnson did not offer any specifics on how he will reduce the burden but said the Government will cut taxes when it is “sensible” to do so. The PM’s speech featured a handful of housing policies as its centrepiece, including an extension of Right to Buy.

Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, said: “You can’t solve a housing crisis with back of the envelope policies that have no realistic chance of success.”

Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, insisted “nothing” would work as Mr Johnson seeks to win back the British public after winning Monday’s confidence vote.

Mr Johnson also effectively ditched a 2019 Tory manifesto pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the decade as he said he could not give a “cast iron guarantee” that the target will be hit.

That’s all for today…

It was only fitting that Boris Johnson used a housing speech to start the process of rebuilding his premiership.

In a wide-ranging address, Mr Johnson unveiled plans to get more Britons on the housing ladder, including an extension of Right to Buy.

The PM was looking to pacify his backbenchers on two fronts. He effectively ditched a 2019 manifesto promise to build 300,000 new homes a year, and said he could not give a “cast iron guarantee” of numbers.

And he described the rising tax burden as an “aberration” – saying it had to be addressed “sooner [rather] than later”.

Under Tory Party rules, Mr Johnson is theoretically safe for the next year from any more challenges to his leadership. Whether he starts to follow a different path on tax and spend remains to be seen – and could ultimately decide his long-term prospects.

Revolt over ‘bonkers’ plan to scrap Civil Service fast-track graduate scheme for a year 

A group of the most senior civil servants in the UK are fighting back against Boris Johnson’s “bonkers” plan to scrap the fast stream scheme for a year, The Telegraph can reveal.

There is deep disquiet about the proposal among permanent secretaries, the officials who head up each government department, this newspaper understands.

The senior mandarins are pressing Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, to scrap plans to pause the fast-track scheme, fearing it could damage the reputation of the Civil Service.

More than 1,000 graduates are brought into government through the fast stream each year, in a scheme seen by supporters as bringing the “best and brightest” into Whitehall.

But as part of the Prime Minister’s drive to shrink the Civil Service by a fifth, the fast stream will be paused for “at least” a year, the Cabinet Office agreed last month.

​Ben Riley-Smith has this exclusive report

Tom Harris: A winter of strikes could bring down Labour

In the 1980s I had a depressing and tortuous conversation with a fellow Labour Party member who insisted I subscribe to The Morning Star on the basis that it supported, unconditionally, any and every strike, whatever the justification for the workers’ actions, writes Tom Harris.

I politely demurred. But that (ex) comrade’s attitude was alive and well during the period when Labour was led by Jeremy Corbyn, who never encountered a picket line of which he didn’t approve. It hardly mattered what reasons the workers gave for walking out of their workplace: solidarity first, questions later, was Corbyn’s approach.

Not for the first time, Keir Starmer is treading a different path from his predecessor, stating that he doesn’t believe the railway unions should be striking this month.

This is a far cry from the outright condemnation of the union leaderships his political opponents (and I) would prefer to see. But it is a pretty monumental shift, especially when you consider the history and culture of the party he leads.

The Labour-trade union link remains one of those sacred cows that can never be publicly criticised; whatever reservations some MPs may have about it privately, such thoughts are guaranteed to remain private.

Tom Harris: Why Sir Keir Starmer must go further

‘Nobody should be locked out’ of owning a home, says PM

Boris Johnson has insisted this afternoon’s announcements will enable more Britons to become homeowners.

“Nobody should be locked out of home ownership because of where they live or when they were born,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Today we’ve set out our plans to better support more people across the UK to buy a home.”

It came as Ian Fletcher, Director of Policy at the British Property Federation, said: “While the extension of right to buy to housing associations may support more people into home ownership, the homes bought must be replaced on a like-for-like basis.

“Without this, the availability of affordable homes will continue to be stretched at a time when we urgently need more stock, not less. The initiative also fundamentally misses the core issue, helping people into social housing and reducing the waiting list.”

Sir Keir Starmer criticised for failing to condemn rail strikes 

Sir Keir Starmer is under pressure to condemn a wave of rail strikes after he failed to mention the issue in the Commons.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, he repeatedly asked Boris Johnson about NHS waiting times but did not make any comments about the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union’s announcement of a three-day strike later this month.

He was challenged by Mr Johnson who said: “When it comes to travel chaos, may I ask whether we have yet heard any condemnation from the opposition of the RMT and its reckless and wanton strike? What about that?”

And it looks as though ministers are enjoying Labour’s apparent indecision:

Labour are wrong. More disruption on rail services will mean less people use the trains = less train revenues = less pay and eventually job losses for rail workers.

Labour and militant union action are going to leave workers worse off.

— Claire Coutinho MP (@ClaireCoutinho) June 9, 2022

This is a hopeless stance from Labour’s @lisanandy. This rail strike is going to cause utter misery for the country. It isn’t justified – it is vital for the rail industry (rescued by the taxpayer during the pandemic) that it is sustainable. We all want it to succeed.

— Simon Clarke MP (@SimonClarkeMP) June 9, 2022

Diversity drives repel minority groups as they ‘don’t want to be hired on identity grounds’

Diversity drives risk alienating underrepresented groups who feel they are being hired merely for their skin colour or sexual orientation, a new study suggests.

Research by London Business School and Yale University found that 80 per cent of Fortune 500 companies made an active business-case for workforce diversity, claiming that employing marginalised groups would increase profits, and better serve customers.

But researchers found that LGBTQ professionals, female STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) job seekers and black students were repelled by such firms, feeling that their work would always be judged in light of their social identity.

“On the surface, this rhetoric may sound positive,” said lead author Prof Oriane Georgeac, of Yale School of Management.

“These business-case justifications are extremely popular. But our findings suggest that they do more harm than good.”

Sarah Knapton, our Science Editor, has the story

Jeremy Hunt: I’m a ‘natural loyalist’ – but had a ‘duty’ to vote against PM

Jeremy Hunt insists he is a “natural loyalist” – but had a “duty” to vote against Boris Johnson on Monday.

Writing in the Farnham Herald, his local paper, he says he may be “proved spectacularly wrong”, adding that many voters “no longer give us the benefit of the doubt”.

He goes on to cite Mr Johnson’s achievements including “getting us out of the biggest constitutional crisis of our lifetimes” during Brexit, the vaccine rollout, and the Ukraine response.

“But these are now overshadowed by the partygate events in a way that means many members of the public are no longer giving us the benefit of the doubt,” he continues.

“That makes it much harder to deliver the radical and transformative reforms we need in many areas.”

‘Boris Johnson must offer Thatcherite action, not just good intentions’

‘If in doubt, channel Thatcher’ appeared to be the thinking behind Boris Johnson’s true blue speech in Blackpool, notes Camilla Tominey.

He may have once described himself as a “Brexity Hezza”, after Maggie’s arch rival Michael Heseltine, but it was clear the Prime Minister was trying to inject some of the Iron Lady into his anaemic premiership by rebooting Mrs T’s Right to Buy scheme in a speech intended to tick all the Tory boxes.

Boris Johnson sought to emulate Thatcher in his speech in Blackpool earlier today

WPA Pool/Getty Images

Churchill had Lancaster bombers; May had Lancaster House; Johnson had Lancashire (well most of it at the last general election, anyway). Little wonder, then, that he chose to give an oration about the Government being on the side of hard-working people at the heart of the Red Wall he needs to rebuild after partygate.

With inflation rocketing, 50,000 rail workers about to go on strike, record levels of taxation, spiralling debt and vast public spending, it already felt like the 1970s before he announced that people living in housing association accommodation would also be given the right to buy their homes.

Camilla Tominey: Help can’t come soon enough for hard-pressed voters

Coming soon: The inside story of ‘Leadsom for Leader’

Dominic Penna signing on to guide you through the rest of the day’s major developments.

If you haven’t had your fill of leadership chatter recently, Andrea Leadsom – who made the final two of the 2016 Tory contest – is writing a tell-all memoir, Snakes and Ladders.

“As a lifelong optimist, Andrea argues that political careers don’t always – as is so often claimed – end in failure,” the description reads.

Expect a “very personal as well as educational account” about her dealings with ministers, other MPs and the media: “Like a game of snakes and ladders, it is often about getting yourself into the right place at the right time.”

Liz Truss statement on Britons sentenced to death

I utterly condemn the sentencing of Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner held by Russian proxies in eastern Ukraine.

They are prisoners of war. This is a sham judgment with absolutely no legitimacy. My thoughts are with the families.

We continue to do everything we can to support them.

‘Boris is deluded if he thinks firing Sunak can save him from oblivion ‘

Will Rishi Sunak jump, or will he be pushed? asks Allister Heath.

Allies of the Prime Minister have urged him to appoint Jeremy Hunt to No 11; meanwhile, some of the Chancellor’s supporters believe that, even at this late date, he would be better off leaping from a sinking ship.

Yet such drastic action wouldn’t be enough to save the career of either man. Johnson may eventually fire Sunak in a shameless attempt to pin the higher taxes and looming recession entirely on his Chancellor.

But such a cynical ploy wouldn’t by itself rescue the PM, even if the fallout could miraculously be contained: a real reset would require a comprehensive shift on tax, spend, the economy, housing, energy, levelling-up and the environment.

Given Johnson’s incorrect reading of his triumphs of 2016 and 2019 as requiring the Tory party to embrace social democracy and command-and-control environmentalism, there seems little hope of him suddenly rediscovering the market-inclined Conservatism in which he once professed to believe.

Allister Heath: PM will be punished for his Government’s profligacy

Labour: PM’s speech shows he is ‘out of ideas’

Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow levelling up secretary, has claimed Boris Johnson’s housing policies have “no realistic chance of success”. 

She said: “This speech was yet more evidence that the Prime Minister and his tired Government are out of ideas. You can’t solve a housing crisis with back of the envelope policies that have no realistic chance of success. 

“Every family deserves the security of their own home, but under the Conservatives housing has become more insecure and unaffordable. Homeownership rates have plummeted. Nearly 200,000 socially-rented homes have been sold off. The impractical proposals announced today will do nothing to fix that.”

Council bosses issue social housing warning

David Renard, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association which represents councils across England and Wales, said the extension of Right to Buy must not lead to a reduction in the supply of social housing. 

He said: “With over 1.1 million households currently on social housing waiting lists, any loss of social rented housing would risk pushing more families into the private rented sector, as well as driving up housing benefit spending and rents and exacerbating our homelessness crisis at a time of an escalating cost of living crisis. We need to be urgently increasing, not reducing the supply of affordable social homes.”

Boris Johnson tries his hand at brick laying

Boris Johnson used his speech in Blackpool this afternoon to promise to turn “benefits to bricks” (see the post below at 13.48). 

The Prime Minister went on a fitting visit before delivering the address as he took part in a brick laying lesson at The Fylde College. 

Boris Johnson is pictured taking part in a bricklaying lesson during a visit to Blackpool today

Peter Byrne/AFP

PM ‘must explain how he will safeguard social housing supply’

Clive Betts, the chairman of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee, has expressed concerns about Boris Johnson’s plans to extend the Right to Buy policy to include housing association tenants. 

He said: “The Prime Minister needs to make clear that if the Government presses ahead with extending the right to buy for those renting housing association properties, it is vital the money goes back into the system of social housing so that new homes can be made available for low-cost rent and purchase.

“The success of an extended Right to Buy policy will surely depend upon the homes sold being replaced and the housing supply being maintained. I hope the Government will explain how this policy will safeguard the provision of accessible and affordable housing, particularly affordable rented property.”

Mr Betts also said the Government needs to explain “how it will overcome the legal hurdles of forcing housing associations, who are independent bodies, to sell their assets”.

Lib Dems accuse PM of ‘desperate attempt to relaunch leadership’

Sir Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has responded to the PM’s big Blackpool speech. 

He said: “Boris Johnson has lost the confidence of his party, Parliament and the country, the desperate attempt to relaunch his leadership today will do nothing to win it back.

“Johnson has no plan to deal with eye-watering prices at the pumps, the sky rocketing price of food and travel chaos.

“If Conservative MPs have any regard for this country they should do their patriotic duty and back a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons so we can get Johnson out of No 10 for good.”

Analysis: PM promises tax cuts but lack of specifics will worry Tory MPs

Boris Johnson’s speech in Blackpool contained much that will be well-received by Tory MPs. 

The Prime Minister’s admission that the tax burden is too high and must come down will be music to the ears of his backbenchers. 

However, the fact that the PM did not set out any detail on how he will reduce that burden will be cause for a degree of alarm. 

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is pictured in Blackpool this afternoon

Peter Byrne/PA

Not for the first time, Mr Johnson spoke eloquently about what he wants to do without actually saying how he will achieve it. 

Tory MPs are not in a particularly patient mood at the moment and Mr Johnson will need to set out concrete measures on tax cuts sooner rather the later if he is to have any chance of winning over his critics. 

PM refuses to be drawn on specific tax cuts

There have been reports that Boris Johnson could cut the basic rate of income tax by 2p instead of the already announced 1p in 2024. 

Asked if he is considering the move, the Prime Minister said: “I know and I think everybody in this country knows that because of Covid we had a massive fiscal shock and it was because of the strength of our economy that we were able to look after people and we still are. 

“We just want to make sure that as we come out of it we keep things strong, take sensible steps, but of course we, as I think I said at least a couple of times, we are strongly inclined to stimulate further growth, further productivity with tax cuts as and when they become sensible.”

PM cannot guarantee Tories will hit housing promise 

Boris Johnson was asked to give a cast iron commitment that he will hit a 2019 Tory manifesto promise to build 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the decade. 

The Prime Minister said he could not do so. 

He said: “I can’t give you a cast iron guarantee that we are going to get to a number in a particular year but what I can point you to is the record of delivery under Conservative governments and the way that we do it.” 

Government will insist sold social housing is replaced

Boris Johnson was told that the big problem in the UK is that there are not enough affordable homes and the extension of Right to Buy could place a further strain on the current supply. 

The Prime Minister said “we understand the vital importance of council homes and affordable homes”. 

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is pictured delivering a speech in Blackpool today

Sky News

He said that when compared to other European nations the UK actually has a lot of social housing. 

“Of course we will continue to insist… there is a one-to-one replacement so that when the sales are made that you use the receipts to build more,” he said.

PM defends record after confidence vote

Boris Johnson has now finished his speech and is taking questions from the press. 

He was asked by the BBC why people should believe he can deliver on his promises after 148 of his own MPs said they do not have confidence in him. 

Mr Johnson said: “If you want a proof point of what we are going to deliver, look at what we have already delivered, look at the way we got the country through the worst pandemic for 100 years, the speed and efficiency of the vaccine rollout.”

Benefit recipients will be able to use cash for mortgages

Boris Johnson also confirmed that the 1.5 million working people who receive housing benefit will in future be able to use it to pay towards a mortgage. 

He labelled the policy turning “benefits to bricks”. 

People will be given the choice between spending the money on rent, as they do now, and putting it towards a mortgage.

PM confirms extension of Right to Buy 

Boris Johnson confirmed that the Right to Buy policy will now be expanded to include housing association tenants. 

The Prime Minister said “it is time for change” as he vowed to bring in a “home ownership revolution”. 

He said: “It will work for tenants, giving millions more the chance to own their own home, it will work for taxpayers, responsibly capped at a level that is fully paid for, affordable within our existing spending plans and with one-for-one replacement of each social housing policy sold.”

Boris Johnson confirms mortgage review 

Boris Johnson said many people could afford to pay a mortgage but cannot afford to save a big enough deposit to make it onto the housing ladder. 

He said the Government will therefore make it easier for people to secure a mortgage. He confirmed there will be a mortgage review, reporting this autumn, to look at how people can be offered more low deposit mortgages.

PM concedes home ownership ‘dream’ is receding for many people

Moving onto the issue of housing, Boris Johnson said that for many people every week and month that goes by “the dream of home ownership recedes further into the distance”. 

The Prime Minister said “home ownership is overwhelmingly concentrated among the over-65s” who were able to buy when houses were much cheaper than they are now. 

Mr Johnson said that “we remain one of the slowest, least prolific home building countries” among the OECD’s 28 members.

PM will ‘grasp the nettle’ on transport reform

Boris Johnson said the Government is “on your side on cutting the cost of transport” as he promised to “grasp the nettle” of difficult reforms. 

The Prime Minister cited the example of “fully-manned ticket offices that barely sell a ticket a week”.

PM: ‘This Government is firmly on your side’ 

Speaking in Blackpool, Boris Johnson said the Government will be setting out reforms in the coming weeks which will cut costs in every part of household expenditure. 

The Prime Minister said he will act regardless of opposition from vested interests. 

“This Government is firmly on your side in cutting those costs,” he said.

Boris Johnson labels tax burden an ‘aberration’

Boris Johnson said the “overall burden of taxation is now very high”. 

He said: “Sooner or later, and I would much rather it was sooner than later, that burden must come down. 

“It is an aberration, the burden of tax, caused in no small part by the fiscal meteorite of Covid and it must come down because the answer to the current economic predicament is not more tax and more spending, the answer is economic growth.” 

He said you cannot “tax your way into growth”. 

PM warns against ‘fanning the flames’ of inflation 

The Prime Minister said the reality is that the Government cannot just spend its way out of rising inflationary pressures. 

He said there is a risk that ministers could “fan the flames” of inflation if they spend too much and instead the focus must be on tackling some of the underlying causes of of spiking inflation. 

Mr Johnson said the UK has “the tools we need to get on top of rising prices” and added: “The global headwinds are strong but our engines…  are stronger, we will get through it.” 

‘We will back the British people for as long as it takes’

Boris Johnson said the Government recognises that rising cost of living pressures will be “simply unaffordable” for some households. 

He then listed elements of the Government’s already-announced £37 billion support package.

He said: “We will back Britain and we will back the British people for as long as it takes.” 

Boris Johnson: No ‘quick fix’ for Ukraine war 

Speaking in Blackpool, the Prime Minister said the world must reject a “bad peace” in Ukraine.

He said Vladimir Putin must not be allowed to keep any ground in Ukraine because “the crocodile would simply come back for more”. 

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, delivers a speech in Blackpool this afternoon

He said “that would be a disaster for Ukraine and all the other parts of the Soviet Union that he might attack”. 

However, Mr Johnson admitted there is no “quick fix” for Ukraine. 

Oil and gas prices ‘likely to remain high’

Boris Johnson said “everyone can see and feel” the worsening cost-of-living crisis as prices rise and household budgets no longer stretch as far as they used to. 

The Prime Minister said things had been improving but have now taken a hit because of the war in Ukraine. 

He said the price of oil and gas “looks likely to remain high” for a while to come and the same applies to food and fertiliser.

PM: ‘Once again we are steering into the wind’

Boris Johnson is now on his feet in Blackpool. 

The Prime Minister said in the last 70 years people in the UK have started to live lives that would be “unimaginable” to people’s grandparents and great grandparents. 

He said this progress has sometimes been “uneven” and often in the face of headwinds.

Mr Johnson said “once again we are steering into the wind” after the coronavirus pandemic and now the war in Ukraine. He said “we will get through it”. 

Boris Johnson set to deliver major speech 

Boris Johnson is in Blackpool this afternoon to deliver a speech which he will be hoping will reset his premiership. 

The speech will contain a number of housing policy announcements. The PM is also expected to use the address to set out his broader vision for the UK. 

We are expecting the PM to be on his feet just after 1pm. I will guide you through the key lines. 

1922 Committee is not considering leadership rule change 

Sir Graham Brady said the 1922 Committee is not currently considering changing the Tory leadership rules to allow MPs to force a vote of confidence in the party leader more than once a year. 

Currently a leader who wins a confidence vote cannot be challenged again for 12 months but some MPs want the grace period to be reduced or scrapped. 

Sir Graham, the chairman of the committee, was asked if he is looking at the idea and he told Times Radio: “No. It’s not something that we as an executive have discussed at all in this Parliament. There was a point in the previous parliament when those discussions took place at length. We ended up without changing the rule.”

He added: “Of course, it is technically possible that laws can be changed in the future. And it’s possible that rules can be changed in the future.

“But I think it’s important we say the rule that is in place, and is likely to remain in place, is that there is a year’s period of grace following a confidence vote.”

Government ‘carefully considering’ smoking recommendations

The Government is “carefully considering” the recommendations made in an independent review on reducing smoking in the UK (see the post below at 09.43). 

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “What we will be doing now is carefully considering the recommendations as part of the wider work to improve the health of the nation and reduce inequalities through our health disparities white paper.”

Downing Street declines to support 10p fuel duty cut

Downing Street has declined to support the AA’s public call for a 10p cut in fuel duty (see the post below at 11.10). 

Pointing to the 5p cut announced in March, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “You will know that we have done that already and we want that saving to be passed on at the forecourts to customers. And like I say, there is already a wide array of support available to the transport sector.”

No 10: Fuel price rises ‘hugely concerning’ 

Asked if Boris Johnson was concerned about the average tank of petrol for a family car hitting £100, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman pointed to past announcements. 

The spokesman said: “Obviously these sorts of increases to people’s daily costs of living will be hugely concerning. That is why we have introduced a detailed package of support for people.

“Up to £1200 of support for around 8 million households on top of existing support as well. Obviously we will keep this under careful review.”

Downing Street pledges mortgage review 

The Government is going to conduct a review of the UK’s mortgage market to see if more can be done to make lending more accessible. 

Downing Street said it has talked to lenders about its plans to allow people who are paying for rent via housing benefit to get extra support to secure mortgages.

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman said: “Yes, we have and also there will be a mortgage review which looks at how we can look at what other countries are doing and see if we can further extend opportunities in the mortgage market. That is due to launch in the coming weeks and report in the autumn.” 

Jeremy Hunt criticises gas drilling decision 

Jeremy Hunt has hit out at the Government’s decision to approve gas drilling in scenic countryside in his Surrey constituency.

The decision, announced by housing minister Stuart Andrew, allows UK Oil & Gas to explore a site at Loxley near Dunsfold for three years.

Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, recused himself from the verdict as his constituency is in a nearby part of Surrey.

You can read more here

Cabinet gifts the Queen a musical box to mark Platinum Jubilee

Boris Johnson’s Cabinet has given the Queen a bespoke musical box to mark her Platinum Jubilee. 

It is a tradition for the Queen to receive a gift from the Cabinet of the day during a major Jubilee year. 

The musical box is hand-painted, enamel-on-copper and has been finished with a platinum mount.

It shows 10 Downing Street on the top of the box and when opened it plays Handel’s “Hallelujah”.

You can read more about the gift here.

The Cabinet has given the Queen a bespoke musical box to mark the Platinum Jubilee

Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street 

The Cabinet has given the Queen a bespoke musical box to mark the Platinum Jubilee

Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street 

Keir Starmer criticises Government’s ‘wrecking ball’ Brexit plans

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Boris Johnson of taking a “wrecking ball” to the UK’s relationship with the EU and Ireland as he criticised the Government’s plans to unilaterally tear up parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

Speaking during a visit to Dublin, the Labour leader said: “Of  course there are challenges with the protocol, but I think that we have faced much greater challenges than that in our shared history and I think that with flexibility on both sides, with good faith, statecraft, and trust around the negotiating table, we can deal with the remaining issues.

Sir Keir Starmer is pictured in the Long Room in Trinity College Dublin during a visit today

Stefan Rousseau/PA

“My concern is that we have a Prime Minister who doesn’t have those attributes. Trust is very important in all of this and this Prime Minister does not have the trust, or I fear he doesn’t have the trust, to negotiate in the way that I actually think would lead to a solution to the problems.

“We’ve face bigger problems than this. With good faith, statecraft and trust around the negotiating table, which is what a Labour government would bring, these problems can be overcome. But a Prime Minister without those attributes taking a wrecking ball to the relationship is not going to help anybody.”

Government ‘confident’ Brexit plans are legal

James Cleverly, a Foreign Office minister, has told the House of Commons the Government is “confident” its proposals to unilaterally make changes to border rules in Northern Ireland will be legal. 

He said: “The Government is confident that our actions are lawful under international law and in line with longstanding convention that we do not set out internal legal deliberations.”

UK’s Brexit plans will be ‘new low’ in British-Irish relations

Micheal Martin, the Irish Taoiseach, said earlier this week that the UK’s plans to unilaterally tear up parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol will result in a “historic low point” for relations between London and Dublin.

Simon Coveney, the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, echoed a similar sentiment, saying this morning: “I just want to reinforce what the Taoiseach said this week when he said that should that legislation be published it really will represent a new low in British-Irish relations since the Good Friday Agreement was signed.

“My message to the British government is a very clear one, which is that if you are genuinely interested in negotiated solutions to these problems, and there are problems in terms of the protocol and its implementation, well then let’s see some evidence as to a willingness to negotiate seriously those solutions through compromise, through flexibility.

EU position on Northern Ireland Protocol has ‘hardened’

The EU’s position on the Northern Ireland Protocol has “hardened” in the face of the UK’s threat to unilaterally tear up elements of the post-Brexit trading arrangements, Simon Coveney has said. 

The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister has urged the UK to step back from its plan to publish new laws which would allow ministers to rip up rules without seeking the EU’s permission. 

He said: “Publishing this legislation will cause a lot more problems than it solves, not just between Britain and Ireland but between the UK and the EU more generally.

“In many ways from my experience, and I’ve been to Finland to Sweden to Estonia to Latvia, and I’ve been speaking to many other EU foreign ministers, in many ways in the last number of weeks the EU position has hardened because I don’t think there’s a single capital across the EU and anybody in the European Commission that believes, at the moment anyway, that the British government is serious about a negotiated solution, because there is no signal coming from London that they are.”

AA demands 10p fuel duty cut 

The AA motoring organisation has called on the Government to bring forward an immediate 10p cut to fuel duty to help take the sting out of rising fuel prices. 

The 10p cut would be in addition to the temporary 5p cut announced by Rishi Sunak back in March. 

The AA also wants the Government to introduce a fuel price stabiliser: this would see duty reduced when prices go up and increased when prices drop.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Enough is enough. The government must act urgently to reduce the record fuel prices which are crippling the lives of those on lower incomes, rural areas and businesses.”

Expansion of Right to Buy is a ‘bad idea in principle and an even worse one in practice’

Ian Mulheirn, the chief economist at the Tony Blair Institute, has criticised the Government’s plans to expand Right to Buy. 

He said: “The latest effort to breathe life into Right to Buy might appeal to Tory nostalgists, but it’s a bad idea in principle and an even worse one in practice.

“If it works it risks further eroding the much needed social housing stock. But in practice it’s unclear where the money will come from to compensate housing associations anyway so it won’t move the needle on home ownership.”

Lord Hammond: ‘Writing is on the wall’ for PM

Lord Hammond, the former chancellor, has suggested the “writing is on the wall” for Boris Johnson’s leadership as he compared the PM’s situation to that of Theresa May after she won a confidence vote in 2018. 

Asked if he believes Mr Johnson should resign, he said: “Well, it is a bit academic really. That isn’t in the nature of prime ministers and I am not at all surprised that the Prime Minister’s position is that he has won the vote and even if he had won it by a single vote he will soldier on.

“That was also Theresa May’s position after she won a confidence vote in 2018 but the writing was on the wall from that point onwards.

“Authority just quietly drains away. It doesn’t happen overnight, it is a cumulative effect and I think we will see a drip feed of unfortunately bad news around the UK economy over the coming months that is going to make it much, much more difficult for the Prime Minister.” 

Boris Johnson will now ‘reach for popular policies’ 

Boris Johnson will “reach for popular policies” and “do the populist thing” as he tries to rebuild his premiership, Lord Hammond has claimed. 

The former chancellor was asked if he believes Mr Johnson realises his authority is now damaged and he told Bloomberg UK: “I don’t know whether he realises but I know that Boris Johnson’s instinct now will be to reach for popular policies, do the populist thing, and try to offer people what in the short term they think they want. 

“Unfortunately we are at a point in our economic cycle where what we need is a dose of realism. We have some challenges in this country to face, the sooner we get to grips with them and face them honestly and openly, the quicker we will get out of them and the better chance we have got of resuming a strong growth path and rebuilding living standards.”

Lord Hammond predicts Boris Johnson will not lead Tories into election 

Philip Hammond, the Tory former chancellor, has predicted Boris Johnson will not lead the Conservative Party into the next general election. 

Lord Hammond said he believes Mr Johnson’s authority will “ebb away” in the coming months after 148 of his MPs voted against him at Monday’s confidence vote. 

He told Bloomberg UK: “I can’t say whether he will be prime minister going into 2023 but I don’t think that he will lead the party into the next general election. 

“I think a rebellion on this scale is very difficult to survive and I think he will find that his authority in the party ebbs away over the next few months.” 

Sir Keir Starmer visits Dublin 

Sir Keir Starmer is visiting Dublin today as he holds talks with political leaders on the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

Sir Keir is due to meet with the the Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, and Simon Coveney, the Irish Foreign Affairs Minister, before then heading to Belfast for further talks. 

The Labour leader started his trip by visiting the Guinness Storehouse where he posed with a pint of the drink with his face on. 

Sir Keir Starmer and Peter Kyle arrive at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin this morning

Stefan Rousseau/PA 

Sir Keir Starmer holds a pint of Guinness with his face on during a visit to Dublin today

Stefan Rousseau/PA

Michael Gove promises ‘instant’ replacement housing

Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, said new social housing will be produced “instantly” to replace homes bought by low-earners under the Government’s latest housing plans.

Asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain how quickly new social homes would replace those bought under the scheme, Mr Gove said: “Instantly.”

He added: “Overall, we want to be in a position where we’re increasing social homes, increasing the number of homes that are there for ownership, and ensuring that in the stock of social homes as people move from renting to ownership so that we replace those numbers as well.”

Review: Legal age for buying cigarettes should increase every year

An independent review on smoking which was commissioned by Sajid Javid has recommended the age of sale for tobacco products should be increased by one year, every year. 

The Health Secretary commissioned the review into how the Government can hit its target of making the UK smoke-free by 2030. 

The review, led by Dr Javed Khan OBE, former CEO of children’s charity Barnardo’s, has now been published.

It has made four main recommendations: 

  • Raising the age of sale from 18 by one year every year, until eventually no one can buy a tobacco product.
  • Increased investment of an additional £125 million per year for smoke-free policies.
  • Promotion of vaping as an effective “swap to stop” tool to help people quit smoking.
  • Improving NHS smoking prevention services. 

You can read the full story here.

PM ‘doing a good enough job of sabotaging himself’

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, made only an oblique reference to Boris Johnson’s confidence vote at PMQs yesterday as he chose instead to focus his questions on the NHS. 

Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, said this morning that Sir Keir did not mention the vote because the PM is “doing a good enough job of sabotaging himself”.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is pictured in the House of Commons yesterday

Jessica Taylor/PA

Asked whether there should be a leadership contest in the Labour Party, Ms Nandy told Sky News: “No, absolutely not. Keir Starmer yesterday was talking about the issues that matter to the people in the country.

“The Prime Minister is doing a good enough job of sabotaging himself and his own reputation, and that row will continue to run within the Conservative Party.”

‘The Government has not thought through the detail’

Boris Johnson will today unveil plans to let people who are paying for rent via housing benefit to get extra support to secure mortgages from banks. 

Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, has questioned if the policy will work because there is “no sign” of lenders having signed up to the idea. 

Speaking on Sky News, she said: “In principle, it’s a great idea to try to get more people the security of their own home, particularly people who find themselves in the benefits system.

“The problem is that, as always, the Government has not thought through the detail. There’s no sign that any of the lenders are on board with this.

“The Government can say that it wants to open up mortgages to people on housing benefit, but unless the lenders agree to do it, it’s not going to happen.

Labour criticises Government’s housing plans 

Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, has warned the Government’s plans to expand the Right to Buy to include housing association tenants could make the UK’s housing crisis “worse”. 

She told the BBC: “We’ve got a severe shortage of affordable housing in this country, we’ve got a million people on the housing waiting lists. By their own reckoning, this will help a few thousand families a year.

“For those families that will be very welcome, but if it makes the housing crisis worse for everybody else, I’m not sure why they wouldn’t come forward with a proper plan that actually starts to increase the supply of affordable housing, cuts costs for lease holders, which is one of the things that we’re proposing today, and get money back into people’s pockets right now.”

Lisa Nandy says Labour is ‘on the rail workers’ side’

Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, has suggested she supports the strikes by rail workers in the coming weeks if the Government fails to address their concerns. But she insisted Labour wants to avoid the industrial action. 

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme, she said: “We want to avoid the strikes and we’re on the public’s side on this.

Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy are pictured on February 15 during a visit to Burnley

Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe

“We’re also on the rail workers’ side and I was speaking to some rail workers on Monday just before I got on the train to come down to London.

“They’re dealing with the same pressures that everyone else is – the cost of food, the cost of soaring inflation rates, taxes going up, and they’re really struggling to make ends meet.”

Sir Keir Starmer failed to condemn the strikes during PMQs in the House of Commons yesterday (you can read the full story here).

Michael Gove ‘made a mistake’ by failing to back Boris Johnson in 2016

Michael Gove torpedoed Boris Johnson’s candidacy in the 2016 Tory leadership race when he unexpectedly announced his own candidacy. 

He said at the time that he had made the decision to run (he would ultimately finish third) because he did not believe Mr Johnson could “provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead”.

Mr Gove today said he had “made a mistake” by failing to back Mr Johnson in 2016. 

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are pictured on June 24, 2016, immediately after the Brexit referendum

Stefan Rousseau/AFP

The Housing Secretary told Sky News that he had “enthusiastically” backed the PM at the confidence vote on Monday. 

Told that he had not always been an enthusiastic supporter of Mr Johnson, he said: “No, I made a mistake in 2016, a misjudgment. If you have been in politics for a little while as I have been there are always mistakes that you can look back on. But no, I think the Prime Minister is doing a good job.”

First Rwanda plane will take off next week, insists Gove

The Government’s first attempt at sending asylum seekers to Rwanda is scheduled for next week but ministers are facing legal challenges over the “offshoring” policy. 

Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, said he believes the flight will go ahead, telling Sky News: “Yes, I do and the Home Secretary was clear, she always anticipated, we always anticipated that there would be legal challenges. 

“”There are some well-funded law firms that understandably from their point of view want to test this policy. But we believe it is the right policy.” 

Government planning deposit saving help for benefit claimants

People who have more than £16,000 in savings cannot claim means-tested benefits. 

Michael Gove revealed this morning that the Government is looking at introducing a new savings vehicle which will allow people to save money specifically for the purpose of buying a house without it impacting on their ability to claim benefits. 

He told Sky News: “One of the challenges, there are two, one is making sure that we have more new homes, the other one is making sure that people have access to mortgage finance. One of the things we are looking at is a way in which people can save explicitly for home ownership and that that those savings can be disregarded or set aside for the purposes of people receiving the benefits to which they are entitled.

“So we are looking specifically at a savings vehicle that people can use in order to make sure that they can save for that deposit because home ownership is not just good for individuals it is good for society overall.”

Petrol stations warned not to take ‘unfair advantage of consumers’

Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, has warned fuel retailers they must not take “unfair advantage of consumers” on pump prices. 

He said: “One of the things that we do need to do is to make sure that on every forecourt that every outlet is making sure that it doesn’t take advantage of this situation to build up excess profits.

“I think we do need to keep a watch on this and I know the Competition and Markets Authority and others will always keep an eagle eye in order to ensure that we don’t have a situation where companies are taking unfair advantage of consumers.”

The Government has suggested it could name and shame profiteering petrol stations.

Michael Gove hints at extra support for motorists

The price of filling a tank of petrol is expected to hit £100 for the first time today as the cost-of-living crisis deepens (you can read the full story here). 

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, cut fuel duty by 5p in March but he is under pressure to now go further and bring forward more help for struggling motorists. 

Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, this morning hinted that more help could soon be announced but he also stressed the Government wants to ensure retailers are actually passing on the existing cut. 

He told Sky News:  “Of course we keep under review all the measures necessary in order to help people with the cost of living.” 

Asked if the Chancellor could announce a further cut to fuel duty, Mr Gove said: “Well, we always keep things under review but one of the things we do want to make sure is that that cut in fuel duty is being passed onto the consumer.”

Government will fund ‘like-for-like’ replacements on Right to Buy

The expansion of Right to Buy to include housing associations will inevitably spark concerns about the UK’s social housing stock because selling more homes will mean fewer are available for future tenants.

But Michael Gove today insisted the Government will ensure all homes which are sold are replaced on a “like-for-like” basis. 

Told that many council houses originally sold under Right to Buy were not replaced, the Housing Secretary told Sky News: “That is a fair point and one of the things that we will be doing is making sure that there is a replacement, a like-for-like, one-for-one replacement.” 

Pictured: Boris Johnson leaves No 10 this morning  

Boris Johnson is pictured leaving Downing Street this morning

Nigel Howard Media 

Michael Gove unable to say what cap will be

Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, was asked a number of times what the cap will be on how many housing association tenants will be able to buy the home they rent but he was unable to say/ 

He told Sky News: “We are thinking at the moment about exactly how many can benefit each year and that is something that I will be discussing with housing associations because again of course we have the resources to be able to fund a programme of this kind but we want to make sure housing associations come with us and they recognise that their balance sheets are going to be robust.” 

Told that he must have a rough figure for what the cap will be, Mr Gove said: “We have costed it but again I don’t want to get into speculation about the exact number.” 

Expansion of Right to Buy will be capped

Boris Johnson will today announce an expansion of Margaret Thatcher’s “Right to Buy” policy to include housing associations (you can read the full story here). 

Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, has now revealed that the policy will be capped. 

Asked if the Government will be providing new money to fund the policy, Mr Gove told Sky News: “It will come from the overall parcel, the overall envelope of Government spending at the moment.

“We expect that we will cap the number of people who will be able to benefit from this initially and then it will grow over time.” 

Good morning 

Good morning and welcome to today’s politics live blog. 

Boris Johnson will try to get his premiership back on track this afternoon as he delivers a major speech in an attempt to move on from Monday’s bruising confidence vote. 

The speech is expected to be wide-ranging as the PM seeks a reset but it will also include a number of new housing policies which have been trailed overnight. 

Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, is on the morning media round for the Government so let’s start by looking at what he has been saying. 

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