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TV debate between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss halted ‘due to medical issue’ after sound of crash in studio – UK politics live | Politics

Talk TV/Sun debate halted after Truss interrupted by sound of crash in studio

The next question is about winter fuel bills.

And whether Sunak has the guts to stand up to Vladimir Putin if he turns off the gas taps this winter.

Yes, says Sunak. He says he increased funding for the armed forces, and approved a sanctions package. It requires toughness to stand up to Putin. And that will involve recognise what might happen to energy bills, and having the “resolve” to carry on standing up to Putin.

McCann asks Truss how she will keep people supporting her when the cost of standing up to Putin is immense.

Truss says the cost of not standing up to him would be worse. He would go on.

Something has crashed on set. It sounds as though something has collapsed. The broadcast has stopped.

Truss looked shocked.

News UK says there has been a medical issue, and the debate will resume soon. This is from the Sun’s Noa Hoffman.

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The next question is about winter fuel bills.

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And whether Sunak has the guts to stand up to Vladimir Putin if he turns off the gas taps this winter.

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Yes, says Sunak. He says he increased funding for the armed forces, and approved a sanctions package. It requires toughness to stand up to Putin. And that will involve recognise what might happen to energy bills, and having the “resolve” to carry on standing up to Putin.

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McCann asks Truss how she will keep people supporting her when the cost of standing up to Putin is immense.

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Truss says the cost of not standing up to him would be worse. He would go on.

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Something has crashed on set. It sounds as though something has collapsed. The broadcast has stopped.

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Truss looked shocked.

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The next question from a woman who asks if her family should go vegetarian. She talks about the cost of meat.

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Truss says she would cut red tape for farmers and focus on food production. She also wants resilience in the food supply.

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She says she is the proud representative of a rural constituency. They produce good meat, she says.

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Q: But often it is not affordable?

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That is why she wants to help farmers produce food more cheaply. She would do that by cutting regulation for farmers.

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Sunak says lots of families are facing rising bill. She hopes the questioner will be getting some of the support already on offer. He wants to get inflation out of the system, so the problems do not get worse, he says.

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He says supermarkets should be held to account. He represents a rural area with many farmers. The supermarkets should not be exploiting the farmers, he says.

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He wants supply chains to be fair. Shops should not be passing on price increases that are not right.

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Truss says she wants to tackle inflation too. The Bank of England thinks it will fall.

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On food bills, she says she wants to ensure people keep more of their own money.

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It is “morally wrong” to put up taxes for ordinary people when it is not necessary, and when the Tory manifesto said the party would not do that.

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Sunak says what is “morally wrong” is asking our children and grandchildren to pick up the bills we are not prepared to meet now.

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He says it is fair to ask companies to pay a bit more through corporation tax. They received a lot of help during the pandemic. Truss wants to cut taxes for big business, he says.

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Truss says that is a misrepresentation. (She wants to scrap a planned rise.)

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McCann puts it to Sunak that money on its own has not worked.

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Sunak says technology offers big potential too, like blood screening technology. He says he would like to see more specialised hubs where surgeons can work very effectively. Using innovations will address the backlogs.

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He says he has published a plan saying from day one tackling the NHS backlog will be his number one priority.

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McCann asks Truss where the extra money for the NHs will come from if she scraps the health and social care levy.

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Truss says she is committed to the extra money for the NHs already promised. She would fund it from general taxation, she says.

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She is committed to the 40 new hospitals the government has agreed to build.

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(Except, of course, they aren’t new hospitals.)

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She says she wants to give more doctors on the frontline freedom to deliver.

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John Hughes from Birmingham asks a question. He was diagnosed with cancer. He has had to rely on a charity for help, he says. He has had no help from cancer nurses. Why is the NHS broken?

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Sunak says he grew up in an NHS family. He knows what a difference healthcare can make.

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The NHS is under strain because it is recovering from Covid. It is under pressure. People are wating for care. He made sure the NHS got the funding it needed, through the national insurance rise. That was not easy and he got criticised for it. But it was the right thing to do, he says.

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That is why people can be reassured the NHS is safe in his hands, he says.

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Truss says she is incredibly sorry to hear about John’s experience. She says her mum worked as a nurse in cancer research.

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She says there is too much micro-managing in the NHS. People should not be directing everything from Whitehall. She wants to give more power locally.

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The debate is starting.

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Kate McCann from Talk TV is hosting. She says the audience is a mixture of Tory and floating voters.

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She asks Victoria Newton, editor in chief of the Sun, what her readers want to hear from the candidates. Newton says first of all they are interested in the cost of living. But they also want to hear about immigration and Brexit, she claims.

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She says Sun readers tends to be floating voters. That is why politicians care about what they think, she claims.

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Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will be taking part in their second one-to-one televised debate. It starts at 6pm, and it is organised by Talk TV and the Sun.

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Talk TV’s political editor, Kate McCann, will be hosting. She was meant to be appearing alongside Harry Cole, the Sun’s political editor, but he has tested positive for Covid.

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n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/MrHarryCole/status/1551846707431985154″,”id”:”1551846707431985154″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”0f4ccffd-a0fc-4fac-82b8-52d57bddb3ce”}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”summary”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1658852766000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”12.26 EDT”,”blockLastUpdated”:1658853425000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”12.37 EDT”,”blockFirstPublished”:1658853425000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”12.37 EDT”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”12.37″,”title”:”Truss and Sunak take part in Talk TV/Sun debate”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Tue 26 Jul 2022 13.44 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Tue 26 Jul 2022 04.27 EDT”},{“id”:”62e016df8f08ecc573bbfff6″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Rape and domestic violence cases will be fast-tracked through the courts under a Labour government so that no victim has to wait more than a year for justice, Keir Starmer has pledged. My colleague Helen Pidd has the story here.

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Here are answers to some of the questions people have submitted through our experimental widget.

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Truss and Sunak’s spending plans

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n

Am I correct in thinking that neither candidate for PM have said anything about their spending priorities, let alone how that reconcile their proposed tax cuts with the increasing demand to provide even basic government services?

n

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They have talked about spending plans a bit – but mainly to promise extra spending (on defence, for example, or for the Border Force). The IFS says Truss’s plans would almost certainly have to involve cuts in public spending but – beyond a hint from one of her supporters that existing government spending plans are not set in stone – she has not addressed this point properly at all. If you want a list of all their polices, Public First has a good tracker here.

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What will happen to the loser?

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n

Hi Andrew, SJ here. I thought it was interesting that both Liz and Rishi said they would offer one another cabinet positions. I struggle to imagine a world though, where either of them would offer one of the big offices of state and it is also difficult to believe they would accept a less-prestigious cabinet position. What do you see being the most likely scenario with the losing candidate? Cabinet position? Backbench grandee? Or even leaving politics altogether (more likely in Rishi’s case than with Liz). Thanks!

n

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The normal procedure in these circumstances is to offer a rival such a junior post that they feel obliged to return to the backbenches. This is what Boris Johnson did in 2019, when he offered Jeremy Hunt demotion from foreign secretary to defence secretary. Hunt said no. But given that the two candidates disagree so fundamentally on the economy, the winner might not even bother and might just exclude the other one from their government altogether. It may also depend on the size of the victory margin. After winning 65%/35%, Truss would feel much more confident despatching Sunak to the wilderness than after a 55%/45% victory.

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How will the winner move on?

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n

How will the winning candidate for PM manage to unite the Tory Party once they have won? How will the new PM be able to then switch to a more moderate tone to try and win the next election ?

n

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More easily than you think. At the moment Truss is making a lot of rightwing announcements because she needs to win over a rightwing audience. Once the focus changes (assuming she wins – but the same principle would be true for Sunak), and she needs to focus on the parliamentary party and the electorate at large, she will change her tone. (It is not as if she hasn’t had any practice.)

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Number of debates

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n

Hi Andrew all these debates in the Tory leadership contest seem to be complete overkill especially since most people have no vote. It also seems that there are more of these debates than for previous such contests – is this correct? Where there any for the 2020 Labour leadership contest?

n

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I haven’t done a count, but I think we are getting at least as many debates and hustings as in 2019. It is just that you have forgotten most of them because quite quickly they become very repetitive. And there were plenty of Labour events in early 2020 too, until Covid closed them down.

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Privileges committee

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n

Hi Andrew – how likely is it that the Privileges Committee find Boris Johnson has broken the ministerial code, and that he is subsequently is suspended and faces a recall petition? And how likely is it, in addition, that he is recalled and faces a byelection?|

n

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The committee is not specifically investigating whether Johnson broke the ministerial code – a matter for government, not parliament – but if it were to find that Johnson did deliberately mislead parliament, that would amount to a finding that the ministerial code had been broken.

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I think it is already clear that the committee will conclude that MPs were misled by what Johnson said, and that this amounts to a contempt of parliament. Johnson has admitted himself that he passed on duff information. Whether or not they conclude he lied is less clear. They will want a conclusion that the committee supports unanimously, and that is likely to be accepted by the Commons as a whole, and so they may find it hard to justify a conclusion saying bluntly: “He lied.” But they might; they seem very serious about gathering evidence. At the very least I expect the committee to say Johnson was cavalier about MPs being misled, and that this was unaccepable.

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Will they recommend a suspension of at least 10 days (which could trigger recall)? I don’t know. But any punishment would have to be put to the Commons for a vote, and I think Harriet Harman will want a report that receives widespread backing from MPs, not a split along party lines.

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If Johnson does get suspended for 10 days, campaigners would have to get 10% of voters in his constituency to sign a petition for a recall election to take place. I guess that would be easily done.

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One other possibility – the new prime minister could ask MPs to vote to halt the privileges committee inquiry. That would be hugely controversial, because it would be another example of Tory MPs voting to protect one of their own. But Liz Truss may feel that a row about that is preferrable to six months’ of stories about the former party leader being a liar. It would be the equivalent of Gerald Ford granting Richard Nixon a pardon in 1976.

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Scottish independence

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n

Hi Andrew, do you think a Conservative or Labour government will ever allow a second Scottish Independence Referendum? If so, under what circumstances do you think they would concede one?||||If not, does that present a constitutional crisis since the power technically exists to hold one, but it’s being withheld regardless of the case for it?

n

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It is definitely possible at some point in the future. Note, for example, how Rishi Sunak is saying today that a second referendum is “the wrong priority at the worst possible moment” – not that it should never happen. But 2030 the argument that the 2014 was meant to settle matters for a generation will not have much grip. And if public support for independence in Scotland were to start regularly reaching 55/60%, then at that point I think Westminster would have to respond.

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Race and the leadership contest

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n

Why is the issue of race not being mentioned? Everyone knows that there is a core of the Tory membership that will never vote for a non-white individual as their leader. Sunak is too weak to challenge such individuals and Truss seems content to simply hoover up the votes of such individuals. The Rwanda policy, which even Tom Tugendhat supports, shows how anti-foreigner views are being chased after and not confronted.

n

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You’re right. There has been little media discussion of whether Sunak not being white is a problem for his chances. But mostly, I think, that reflects a media consensus that race is not a significant factor at all in the contest (and that going on about it might actually reinforce prejudice). The Conservative party has changed enormously over the past decade, and the line-up in the early stages of the contest – which was easily the most diverse of any leadership contest for any major party in UK history – ought to show that ethnicity does not stop people succeeding right at the top of politics anymore.

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It is also the case that it is impossible to tell whether ethnicity affects people’s chances of getting elected in a contest like this. There is some evidence for the impact it has in a general election, and that does show that Conservative-leaning voters are slightly less inclined to vote for a non-white candidate. But the impact is marginal (and not enough to make one think it would be a decisive factor in the Truss v Sunak contest). This is what the evidence says according to The British General Election of 2019, the definitive study of the contest.

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n

As at other recent elections, felding [an ethnic minority] candidate appears to have made a difference to the vote secured by Conservative candidates, but not by their Labour counterparts. Where the Conservatives felded an ethnic minority candidate in 2019 after not having done so in 2017, their vote fell on average by −1.2 points. In contrast, Conservative support increased by +2.1 points where either a white candidate or an ethnic minority candidate was felded on both occasions. This discrepancy cannot be accounted for by the incumbency status of the candidate or the ethnic composition of the constituency, while it is apparent in both Leave and Remain seats. What is more, where the Conservative candidate in 2019 was white but the previous candidate was from a minority background in 2017, the average rise in the Conservative vote was, at +2.8 points, a little higher than elsewhere. The relatively socially conservative character of Conservative support still appears to be refected in a reluctance by a few of the party’s potential voters to back a more ethnically diverse parliamentary party.

n

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Liz Truss, the foreign secretary and Tory leadership contest, has been giving an interview for Sky News during a campaign event in Sussex. Judging by what she said about Rishi Sunak’s tax policies, any hope that the campaign rhetoric may be softening is for the birds. Here are the main points.

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    n

  • Truss suggested that Sunak’s economic policies would be a “disaster” for the UK. Asked about today’s IMF world economic update, which implies it would be wrong to cut taxes now, she replied:
  • n

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n

Let’s be clear, [Sunak’s] plan is to raise taxes. He is planning to raise taxes on corporations, putting our taxes up to the same level as France. That is going to put off people who want to invest in Britain. And I know there are masses of opportunities right across the country.

n

Less investment will mean fewer jobs, fewer opportunities, lower wages and lower productivity in the future. So it’s cutting off our nose to spite our face. The fact is that we promised in our manifesto not to raise national insurance. I thought it was wrong at the time to do so, and that is why I would reverse that.

n

I also want to put money into people’s pockets. I could quote the OECD who said that our current policy is contractionary. And what that means is it will lead to a recession. A recession would be a disaster, it would be a disaster for people who are homeowners. It would be a disaster for people who go out to work. It would be a disaster for people who run businesses.

n

That is why I want to keep taxes low, attract the investment, get the growth. That’s the best way to pay down our debt.

n

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    n

  • She dismissed the fact that there is little support amongst mainstream economists for her own economic policies. She said:
  • n

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n

I don’t base my policies on the number of economists… The question is who is right.

n

The fact is we are one of the few G7 countries that are putting up taxes.

n

Countries like the United States, Canada, Japan have higher levels of debt than us.

n

They are not putting up taxes because they understand that now is the time we need to get the economic growth into our economy to avoid a recession and to make sure that we are attracting business investment and those jobs and growth for the future.

n

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    n

  • She said she was fed up of hearing “declinist talk” about Britain’s economic prospects.
  • n

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    n

  • She refused to respond to claims that some of her supporters, like Nadine Dorries, were engaging in unedifying attacks on Sunak. Asked specifically about Dorries, she just said she had a “fantastic range of supporters”.
  • n

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    n

  • She ducked a question about whether she got annoyed by the constant interruptions from Sunak in the debate last night. “I put my case across,” she said. And she refused to say whether she thought he was “mansplaining”. When asked about that, she replied: “I’m putting forward a positive case”.
  • n

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    n

  • She restated her threat to make it harder for unions to organise strikes, saying she would take “a tough line on trade union action that is not helping people get on in life”.
  • n

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    n

  • And she said she would ignore union threats to mobilise to block her strike reform plans. Asked about Mick Lynch, the RMT leader, saying she would face mass resistance (see 3.10pm), she replied:
  • n

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n

I don’t take any notice of these bellicose threats. I’m on the side of the travelling public who need to get into work to do their jobs.

n

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suggests Sunak’s economic policies would be ‘disaster’ for Britain”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Tue 26 Jul 2022 13.44 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Tue 26 Jul 2022 04.27 EDT”},{“id”:”62dff1f98f081e9f3bd208d8″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Overnight Liz Truss, the foreign secretary and favourite in the Tory leadership contest, announced plans that she said would “prevent trade unions from paralysing the country”. They would significantly curtail the ability of trade unions to use strike action as a means of protecting their members’ interests.

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According to her news release, she would:

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    n

  • “Introduce minimum service levels on critical national infrastructure – introducing primary legislation in the first 30 days of government.”
  • n

“,”elementId”:”f063aaaa-1892-44fa-8127-9b1453f2bb34″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

    n

  • “Ensure strike action has significant support from union members by raising the minimum threshold for voting in favour of strike action from 40% to 50%, and expanding this rule across all sectors.”
  • n

“,”elementId”:”9a297055-ee1e-42a6-8281-50a62a181148″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

    n

  • “Increase the minimum notice period for strike action from two weeks to four weeks.”
  • n

“,”elementId”:”2f1cc457-4418-4099-b24f-a00b52e26322″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

    n

  • “Implement a cooling off period so that unions can no longer strike as many times as they like in the six month period after a ballot.”
  • n

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    n

  • “Put an end to members receiving tax free payments from trade unions on the days they are striking.”
  • n

“,”elementId”:”87cf450e-6979-4bed-abfc-79617e33050a”},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

As my colleague Jessica Elgot reports in her story on this, Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, has said the proposals would amount to “the biggest attack on trade union and civil rights since labour unions were legalised in 1871”. He said unions would fight them with mass resistance.

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Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, has this afternoon released a similar statement, saying Truss will be met by “fierce, prolonged resistance” if she tries to push through these changes. Graham said:

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n

Let’s be clear Liz Truss’s madcap proposals are an attempt to outlaw strike action and effective trade unions.

n

This so-called manifesto is a declaration of war on the trade union movement and working people. In effect, it is a charter for massive social discontent.

n

What we have here is an ambitious politician, hawking for the votes of a tiny minority by putting the rights of all workers on the chopping block.

n

At the time of a cost of living crisis, where profiteering not wages is driving inflation, this would-be prime minister has instead chosen to return Britain’s workplaces to the 19th century. It’s Charles Dickens meets 2022.

n

Unite will not bow to threats and bullying and any attempt to make our fight for jobs, pay and conditions illegal will be met with fierce, prolonged resistance.

n

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leader says Truss’s ‘madcap’ plans for unions are ‘attempt to outlaw strike action'”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Tue 26 Jul 2022 13.44 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Tue 26 Jul 2022 04.27 EDT”},{“id”:”62dff09c8f08127940905a59″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Labour says Boris Johnson’s account of his meeting with the former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev (see 2.19pm) suggests he has “something to hide”. This is from Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader.

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n

Boris Johnson has finally admitted to meeting a former KGB agent while Foreign Secretary in the wake of an attack on British soil and after a crucial NATO summit but this mealy-mouthed statement raises more questions than it answers.

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Keeping the British people safe should be a priority of government, but this web of murky relationships shows the Conservatives cannot be trusted with our national security …

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This letter suggests the prime minister has something to hide. He has failed to answer whether a private phone call with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had been arranged or explain the presence of an undeclared and unidentified guest.

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As foreign secretary, Boris Johnson’s carelessness with words put people in danger. Every day he clings to office, there is new evidence of the risk to national security he poses.

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Boris Johnson has given his fullest public account to date of how he met the former KGB agent and Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev at a private party in Italy in April 2018, when Johnson was foreign secretary. The party was hosted by Lebedev’s son, Evgeny Lebedev, a friend of Johnson’s who has subsequently been given a peerage.

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Johnson attended the event without the security detail that normally accompanied him as foreign secretary and, although his presence at the event with Alexander Lebedev was first reported in 2019, questions have persisted about what Johnson was up to, and whether it was appropriate. Recently Paul Caruana Galizia from Tortoise reported that Lebedev had arranged for Johnson to take a call from the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, while he was at the party, without government officials monitoring it, but that the call never happened – purportedly because Johnson overslept.

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n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/pcaruanagalizia/status/1537320789216833536″,”id”:”1537320789216833536″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”e4ef4db4-077d-42ac-ad6a-81aff5a8987e”},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

At a hearing with the Commons liaison committee earlier this month, Johnson admitted for the first time that he had met Alexander Lebedev at the party. The committee had various follow-up questions and, in a letter to it released today, Johnson has addressed them. Here are the key points.

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    n

  • Johnson defends his decision not to take his security detail with him to the Lebedev party. He says:
  • n

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Officials were aware in advance that I was attending the social event. Contrary to some reports, my visit was in line with established security protocols under successive foreign secretaries. It would not have been normal practice for civil servants or security staff to have accompanied me to such a private, social occasion. I did not take ministerial papers with me.

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    n

  • He says that, as far as he is aware, he did not discuss official business with Lebedev. If he had discussed official business at a meeting like this – a social occasion where officials were not present – he would have had to report back any “significant content” to the department afterwards. He goes on: “That was not necessary in this case. As far as I am aware, no government business was discussed.” The qualifier “as far as I am aware” may be significant, and my colleague Dan Sabbagh offered one potential explanation for Johnson’s lack of awareness on this point in a story he wrote earlier this month. Dan said:
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On the Saturday night, Johnson is understood to have got heavily drunk at the event, meaning that it was unlikely that much of substance was discussed between the newspaper owner and the then foreign secretary.

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  • Johnson says his meeting with Alexander Lebedev at the party “was not a formal meeting, nor something that was pre-arranged”.
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  • Johnson implies that his contacts with Evgeny Lebedev were no more inappropriate than Labour’s. He says it was Lord Mandelson, when he was business secretary, who allowed the Lebedevs to buy the Evening Standard in 2009. And he says the shadow cabinet had “considerable engagement” with Evgeny Lebedev in the period until 2016, when it used to disclose details of meetings with senior media figures. Since then, Labour has stopped publishing information about these meetings, “despite a commitment following the Leveson inquiry”, Johnson says.
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The SNP has accused Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor and Tory leadership candidate, of using “warped logic” to justify his decision to oppose allowing a second independence referendum. In a response to Sunak’s column in the Scottish Daily Mail (see 10.56am), Kirsten Oswald, the party’s deputy leader at Westminster, said:

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Rishi Sunak’s warped logic appears to be that the people of Scotland cannot be given a say over their constitutional future because the UK is in such a mess. It is precisely because the UK is lagging behind neighbouring countries on a range of wealth and equality indicators – as demonstrated in the recent Scottish government paper – that independence for Scotland is essential.

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The longer Scotland remains tied to a failing Westminster system, the poorer we will become as a result.

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The Tories put the exact case that Rishi Sunak is making to the people of Scotland at every election, and they lose every election by a landslide. It’s clear that neither of the Tory candidates have put any thought into their Scotland strategy, which does not bode well for either of them becoming prime minister.

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accuses Sunak of using ‘warped logic’ to justify opposing second independence referendum”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Tue 26 Jul 2022 13.44 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Tue 26 Jul 2022 04.27 EDT”},{“id”:”62dfd52d8f08ecc573bbfc88″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Hi. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Rachel Hall. I’ll be here for the rest of the day, including covering the Talk TV/Sun Tory leadership debate at 6pm.

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And talking of debates, here is more on the YouGov poll of Tory members who watched last night’s BBC debate. The results are good for Liz Truss – in fact, so good for her that (unless the Tory members being sampled by YouGov are seriously unrepresentative of the acting voting membership, which seems unlikely) it is increasingly hard to see how Rishi Sunak wins.

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  • Conservative members think Truss performed best by 50% to 39%, the poll suggests.
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  • Truss was deemed to have performed better than Sunak on all eight debate topics covered by the poll, the findings suggest. (See 12.04pm.)
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  • Truss also came across as more in touch with ordinary people, likeable and trustworthy. The only measure on which Sunak did outperform Truss was looking prime ministerial – although, even on this measure, he was only ahead by 43% to 42%.
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n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/YouGov/status/1551885482619031552″,”id”:”1551885482619031552″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”8248f190-286b-457b-93d2-1db0ce2afee1″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Although debates can change perceptions of a candidate, more often they don’t, and more often debating polling just reflects what people thought of the candidates before the debate took place. In broad terms, that seems to be the case with this poll. Last week a YouGov poll of Tory members had Truss leading Sunak by 62% to 38%.

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Today’s poll results suggest Sunak may have outperformed the baseline – ie, he scored better than expected given that the audience (Tory members) favoured Truss in the first place – but not by enough to overcome his initial handicap.

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A second Scottish independence referendum is “the wrong priority at the worst possible moment”, Tory leadership candidate Rishi Sunak has written in a column for the Scottish Daily Mail on Tuesday.

Both he and rival Liz Truss have spoken out against the idea of holding another vote, with Truss stating last week that she would not agree to a request from the Scottish Government under any circumstances.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon last week branded the two hopefuls “hypocrites” in response to their comments.

In his column, Sunak said the United Kingdom is the “most successful political union in history, and has stood the test of time in withstanding some of the greatest challenges we have ever faced”.

He wrote:

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Working together and uniting is what made us such a formidable force on the world stage.

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Scotland has achieved so much as part of the UK, and the UK has achieved so much because of Scotland. We can build on that success for the future, and I have a plan to do it.

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In the same way that the might of our union stepped up to help people in all corners of the UK during the pandemic, it’s going to have to help people through the immediate months and challenges ahead.

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I am clear that another referendum is the wrong priority at the worst possible moment.

n

The SNP are wrong to try and tear the country apart when we should be pulling together. Why aren’t they talking about the drugs crisis in Scotland or how we can get more money into Scottish workers’ pockets?

n

Just as I want to be more accountable to people in every corner of the United Kingdom, so too does the SNP need to be more accountable for their responsibilities.

n

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The Tory MP added that the UK government cannot “just stop a referendum, we also need to drive down support for independence, too”.

He said:

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n

We need to win the argument and show that you can be a patriotic Scot and a proud advocate of our United Kingdom at the same time. One is not exclusive to the other.

n

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To do so, the former chancellor suggested Westminster should put an end to the “devolve and forget mentality” and instead become “the most active UK government since devolution began” by investing more funding directly into local communities.

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Keir Starmer has said a Labour government would fix “broken” water and energy markets through regulation before nationalising the railways because of ballooning post-pandemic debt.

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The Labour leader distanced himself from his own pledge when he was running for the party’s leadership in 2019 to support “common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.

He told BBC Breakfast:

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n

We’ve got to recognise that after the pandemic we’re in a different situation financially to the situation that we were in before, and we want a responsible government that says if we’re going to do something we will tell you how we’re going to pay for it.

n

The single most important thing is how we grow the economy, re-energise the economy, and that can’t be reduced to a discussion about nationalisation.

n

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Starmer stressed his “pragmatic” approach, saying that for most utilities “the answer is going to lie in regulating the market, changing the market, rather than simply taking things into public ownership”.

However, he said Labour would stick to plans to nationalise the railways if it won the next election.

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Good morning.

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Last night Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak clashed in a fierce TV debate over tax cuts, China and inflation.

This morning, politicians have been sharing their views. One of Truss’ supporters, Simon Clarke, chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News there had been “aggressive moments”, while conceding that the overall tenor had been “respectful”.

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He added:

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n

I think there were some pretty aggressive moments at the outset from Rishi towards Liz in terms of interrupting her as she tried to set out her case, but by and large I think the debate was held in a reasonable spirit reflecting, obviously, the importance of the issues.

n

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Labour leader Keir Starmer’s appraisal to BBC Breakfast was more damning:

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n

I watched as much as I could bear of it, because it showed just the two contenders taking lumps out of each other, talking over each other, talking about clothing and earrings instead of the health service.

n

So if ever there was an example of a party that is absolutely lost the plot, lost any sense of purpose then it was that debate last night.

n

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Meanwhile, MP David Davis dismissed the suggestion that Rishi Sunak was “mansplaining” to Liz Truss as “spin”. He told Sky News: “Sometimes it’s important to intervene in debates.”

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You can read the Guardian’s chief political correspondent Jess Elgot’s full report of the debates here:

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Here’s what’s on the agenda for today:

18:00 Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will face questions from Sun readers on the Sun website and TalkTV.

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It’s also Truss’s 47th birthday today.

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I’ll be keeping you updated for the rest of the morning on all the key events in government. Do get in touch with anything we’ve missed at rachel.hall@theguardian.com.

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Key events

News UK says there has been a medical issue, and the debate will resume soon. This is from the Sun’s Noa Hoffman.

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The next question is about winter fuel bills.

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And whether Sunak has the guts to stand up to Vladimir Putin if he turns off the gas taps this winter.

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Yes, says Sunak. He says he increased funding for the armed forces, and approved a sanctions package. It requires toughness to stand up to Putin. And that will involve recognise what might happen to energy bills, and having the “resolve” to carry on standing up to Putin.

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McCann asks Truss how she will keep people supporting her when the cost of standing up to Putin is immense.

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Truss says the cost of not standing up to him would be worse. He would go on.

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Something has crashed on set. It sounds as though something has collapsed. The broadcast has stopped.

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Truss looked shocked.

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The next question from a woman who asks if her family should go vegetarian. She talks about the cost of meat.

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Truss says she would cut red tape for farmers and focus on food production. She also wants resilience in the food supply.

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She says she is the proud representative of a rural constituency. They produce good meat, she says.

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Q: But often it is not affordable?

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That is why she wants to help farmers produce food more cheaply. She would do that by cutting regulation for farmers.

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Sunak says lots of families are facing rising bill. She hopes the questioner will be getting some of the support already on offer. He wants to get inflation out of the system, so the problems do not get worse, he says.

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He says supermarkets should be held to account. He represents a rural area with many farmers. The supermarkets should not be exploiting the farmers, he says.

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He wants supply chains to be fair. Shops should not be passing on price increases that are not right.

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Truss says she wants to tackle inflation too. The Bank of England thinks it will fall.

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On food bills, she says she wants to ensure people keep more of their own money.

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It is “morally wrong” to put up taxes for ordinary people when it is not necessary, and when the Tory manifesto said the party would not do that.

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Sunak says what is “morally wrong” is asking our children and grandchildren to pick up the bills we are not prepared to meet now.

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He says it is fair to ask companies to pay a bit more through corporation tax. They received a lot of help during the pandemic. Truss wants to cut taxes for big business, he says.

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Truss says that is a misrepresentation. (She wants to scrap a planned rise.)

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McCann puts it to Sunak that money on its own has not worked.

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Sunak says technology offers big potential too, like blood screening technology. He says he would like to see more specialised hubs where surgeons can work very effectively. Using innovations will address the backlogs.

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He says he has published a plan saying from day one tackling the NHS backlog will be his number one priority.

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McCann asks Truss where the extra money for the NHs will come from if she scraps the health and social care levy.

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Truss says she is committed to the extra money for the NHs already promised. She would fund it from general taxation, she says.

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She is committed to the 40 new hospitals the government has agreed to build.

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(Except, of course, they aren’t new hospitals.)

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She says she wants to give more doctors on the frontline freedom to deliver.

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John Hughes from Birmingham asks a question. He was diagnosed with cancer. He has had to rely on a charity for help, he says. He has had no help from cancer nurses. Why is the NHS broken?

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Sunak says he grew up in an NHS family. He knows what a difference healthcare can make.

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The NHS is under strain because it is recovering from Covid. It is under pressure. People are wating for care. He made sure the NHS got the funding it needed, through the national insurance rise. That was not easy and he got criticised for it. But it was the right thing to do, he says.

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That is why people can be reassured the NHS is safe in his hands, he says.

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Truss says she is incredibly sorry to hear about John’s experience. She says her mum worked as a nurse in cancer research.

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She says there is too much micro-managing in the NHS. People should not be directing everything from Whitehall. She wants to give more power locally.

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The debate is starting.

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Kate McCann from Talk TV is hosting. She says the audience is a mixture of Tory and floating voters.

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She asks Victoria Newton, editor in chief of the Sun, what her readers want to hear from the candidates. Newton says first of all they are interested in the cost of living. But they also want to hear about immigration and Brexit, she claims.

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She says Sun readers tends to be floating voters. That is why politicians care about what they think, she claims.

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Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will be taking part in their second one-to-one televised debate. It starts at 6pm, and it is organised by Talk TV and the Sun.

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Talk TV’s political editor, Kate McCann, will be hosting. She was meant to be appearing alongside Harry Cole, the Sun’s political editor, but he has tested positive for Covid.

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n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/MrHarryCole/status/1551846707431985154″,”id”:”1551846707431985154″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”0f4ccffd-a0fc-4fac-82b8-52d57bddb3ce”}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”summary”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1658852766000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”12.26 EDT”,”blockLastUpdated”:1658853425000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”12.37 EDT”,”blockFirstPublished”:1658853425000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”12.37 EDT”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”12.37″,”title”:”Truss and Sunak take part in Talk TV/Sun debate”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Tue 26 Jul 2022 13.44 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Tue 26 Jul 2022 04.27 EDT”},{“id”:”62e016df8f08ecc573bbfff6″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Rape and domestic violence cases will be fast-tracked through the courts under a Labour government so that no victim has to wait more than a year for justice, Keir Starmer has pledged. My colleague Helen Pidd has the story here.

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Here are answers to some of the questions people have submitted through our experimental widget.

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Truss and Sunak’s spending plans

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n

Am I correct in thinking that neither candidate for PM have said anything about their spending priorities, let alone how that reconcile their proposed tax cuts with the increasing demand to provide even basic government services?

n

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They have talked about spending plans a bit – but mainly to promise extra spending (on defence, for example, or for the Border Force). The IFS says Truss’s plans would almost certainly have to involve cuts in public spending but – beyond a hint from one of her supporters that existing government spending plans are not set in stone – she has not addressed this point properly at all. If you want a list of all their polices, Public First has a good tracker here.

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What will happen to the loser?

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n

Hi Andrew, SJ here. I thought it was interesting that both Liz and Rishi said they would offer one another cabinet positions. I struggle to imagine a world though, where either of them would offer one of the big offices of state and it is also difficult to believe they would accept a less-prestigious cabinet position. What do you see being the most likely scenario with the losing candidate? Cabinet position? Backbench grandee? Or even leaving politics altogether (more likely in Rishi’s case than with Liz). Thanks!

n

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The normal procedure in these circumstances is to offer a rival such a junior post that they feel obliged to return to the backbenches. This is what Boris Johnson did in 2019, when he offered Jeremy Hunt demotion from foreign secretary to defence secretary. Hunt said no. But given that the two candidates disagree so fundamentally on the economy, the winner might not even bother and might just exclude the other one from their government altogether. It may also depend on the size of the victory margin. After winning 65%/35%, Truss would feel much more confident despatching Sunak to the wilderness than after a 55%/45% victory.

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How will the winner move on?

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n

How will the winning candidate for PM manage to unite the Tory Party once they have won? How will the new PM be able to then switch to a more moderate tone to try and win the next election ?

n

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More easily than you think. At the moment Truss is making a lot of rightwing announcements because she needs to win over a rightwing audience. Once the focus changes (assuming she wins – but the same principle would be true for Sunak), and she needs to focus on the parliamentary party and the electorate at large, she will change her tone. (It is not as if she hasn’t had any practice.)

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Number of debates

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n

Hi Andrew all these debates in the Tory leadership contest seem to be complete overkill especially since most people have no vote. It also seems that there are more of these debates than for previous such contests – is this correct? Where there any for the 2020 Labour leadership contest?

n

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I haven’t done a count, but I think we are getting at least as many debates and hustings as in 2019. It is just that you have forgotten most of them because quite quickly they become very repetitive. And there were plenty of Labour events in early 2020 too, until Covid closed them down.

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Privileges committee

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n

Hi Andrew – how likely is it that the Privileges Committee find Boris Johnson has broken the ministerial code, and that he is subsequently is suspended and faces a recall petition? And how likely is it, in addition, that he is recalled and faces a byelection?|

n

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The committee is not specifically investigating whether Johnson broke the ministerial code – a matter for government, not parliament – but if it were to find that Johnson did deliberately mislead parliament, that would amount to a finding that the ministerial code had been broken.

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I think it is already clear that the committee will conclude that MPs were misled by what Johnson said, and that this amounts to a contempt of parliament. Johnson has admitted himself that he passed on duff information. Whether or not they conclude he lied is less clear. They will want a conclusion that the committee supports unanimously, and that is likely to be accepted by the Commons as a whole, and so they may find it hard to justify a conclusion saying bluntly: “He lied.” But they might; they seem very serious about gathering evidence. At the very least I expect the committee to say Johnson was cavalier about MPs being misled, and that this was unaccepable.

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Will they recommend a suspension of at least 10 days (which could trigger recall)? I don’t know. But any punishment would have to be put to the Commons for a vote, and I think Harriet Harman will want a report that receives widespread backing from MPs, not a split along party lines.

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If Johnson does get suspended for 10 days, campaigners would have to get 10% of voters in his constituency to sign a petition for a recall election to take place. I guess that would be easily done.

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One other possibility – the new prime minister could ask MPs to vote to halt the privileges committee inquiry. That would be hugely controversial, because it would be another example of Tory MPs voting to protect one of their own. But Liz Truss may feel that a row about that is preferrable to six months’ of stories about the former party leader being a liar. It would be the equivalent of Gerald Ford granting Richard Nixon a pardon in 1976.

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Scottish independence

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n

Hi Andrew, do you think a Conservative or Labour government will ever allow a second Scottish Independence Referendum? If so, under what circumstances do you think they would concede one?||||If not, does that present a constitutional crisis since the power technically exists to hold one, but it’s being withheld regardless of the case for it?

n

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It is definitely possible at some point in the future. Note, for example, how Rishi Sunak is saying today that a second referendum is “the wrong priority at the worst possible moment” – not that it should never happen. But 2030 the argument that the 2014 was meant to settle matters for a generation will not have much grip. And if public support for independence in Scotland were to start regularly reaching 55/60%, then at that point I think Westminster would have to respond.

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Race and the leadership contest

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n

Why is the issue of race not being mentioned? Everyone knows that there is a core of the Tory membership that will never vote for a non-white individual as their leader. Sunak is too weak to challenge such individuals and Truss seems content to simply hoover up the votes of such individuals. The Rwanda policy, which even Tom Tugendhat supports, shows how anti-foreigner views are being chased after and not confronted.

n

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You’re right. There has been little media discussion of whether Sunak not being white is a problem for his chances. But mostly, I think, that reflects a media consensus that race is not a significant factor at all in the contest (and that going on about it might actually reinforce prejudice). The Conservative party has changed enormously over the past decade, and the line-up in the early stages of the contest – which was easily the most diverse of any leadership contest for any major party in UK history – ought to show that ethnicity does not stop people succeeding right at the top of politics anymore.

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It is also the case that it is impossible to tell whether ethnicity affects people’s chances of getting elected in a contest like this. There is some evidence for the impact it has in a general election, and that does show that Conservative-leaning voters are slightly less inclined to vote for a non-white candidate. But the impact is marginal (and not enough to make one think it would be a decisive factor in the Truss v Sunak contest). This is what the evidence says according to The British General Election of 2019, the definitive study of the contest.

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n

As at other recent elections, felding [an ethnic minority] candidate appears to have made a difference to the vote secured by Conservative candidates, but not by their Labour counterparts. Where the Conservatives felded an ethnic minority candidate in 2019 after not having done so in 2017, their vote fell on average by −1.2 points. In contrast, Conservative support increased by +2.1 points where either a white candidate or an ethnic minority candidate was felded on both occasions. This discrepancy cannot be accounted for by the incumbency status of the candidate or the ethnic composition of the constituency, while it is apparent in both Leave and Remain seats. What is more, where the Conservative candidate in 2019 was white but the previous candidate was from a minority background in 2017, the average rise in the Conservative vote was, at +2.8 points, a little higher than elsewhere. The relatively socially conservative character of Conservative support still appears to be refected in a reluctance by a few of the party’s potential voters to back a more ethnically diverse parliamentary party.

n

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Liz Truss, the foreign secretary and Tory leadership contest, has been giving an interview for Sky News during a campaign event in Sussex. Judging by what she said about Rishi Sunak’s tax policies, any hope that the campaign rhetoric may be softening is for the birds. Here are the main points.

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    n

  • Truss suggested that Sunak’s economic policies would be a “disaster” for the UK. Asked about today’s IMF world economic update, which implies it would be wrong to cut taxes now, she replied:
  • n

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n

Let’s be clear, [Sunak’s] plan is to raise taxes. He is planning to raise taxes on corporations, putting our taxes up to the same level as France. That is going to put off people who want to invest in Britain. And I know there are masses of opportunities right across the country.

n

Less investment will mean fewer jobs, fewer opportunities, lower wages and lower productivity in the future. So it’s cutting off our nose to spite our face. The fact is that we promised in our manifesto not to raise national insurance. I thought it was wrong at the time to do so, and that is why I would reverse that.

n

I also want to put money into people’s pockets. I could quote the OECD who said that our current policy is contractionary. And what that means is it will lead to a recession. A recession would be a disaster, it would be a disaster for people who are homeowners. It would be a disaster for people who go out to work. It would be a disaster for people who run businesses.

n

That is why I want to keep taxes low, attract the investment, get the growth. That’s the best way to pay down our debt.

n

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    n

  • She dismissed the fact that there is little support amongst mainstream economists for her own economic policies. She said:
  • n

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n

I don’t base my policies on the number of economists… The question is who is right.

n

The fact is we are one of the few G7 countries that are putting up taxes.

n

Countries like the United States, Canada, Japan have higher levels of debt than us.

n

They are not putting up taxes because they understand that now is the time we need to get the economic growth into our economy to avoid a recession and to make sure that we are attracting business investment and those jobs and growth for the future.

n

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    n

  • She said she was fed up of hearing “declinist talk” about Britain’s economic prospects.
  • n

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    n

  • She refused to respond to claims that some of her supporters, like Nadine Dorries, were engaging in unedifying attacks on Sunak. Asked specifically about Dorries, she just said she had a “fantastic range of supporters”.
  • n

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    n

  • She ducked a question about whether she got annoyed by the constant interruptions from Sunak in the debate last night. “I put my case across,” she said. And she refused to say whether she thought he was “mansplaining”. When asked about that, she replied: “I’m putting forward a positive case”.
  • n

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    n

  • She restated her threat to make it harder for unions to organise strikes, saying she would take “a tough line on trade union action that is not helping people get on in life”.
  • n

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    n

  • And she said she would ignore union threats to mobilise to block her strike reform plans. Asked about Mick Lynch, the RMT leader, saying she would face mass resistance (see 3.10pm), she replied:
  • n

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n

I don’t take any notice of these bellicose threats. I’m on the side of the travelling public who need to get into work to do their jobs.

n

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suggests Sunak’s economic policies would be ‘disaster’ for Britain”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Tue 26 Jul 2022 13.44 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Tue 26 Jul 2022 04.27 EDT”},{“id”:”62dff1f98f081e9f3bd208d8″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Overnight Liz Truss, the foreign secretary and favourite in the Tory leadership contest, announced plans that she said would “prevent trade unions from paralysing the country”. They would significantly curtail the ability of trade unions to use strike action as a means of protecting their members’ interests.

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According to her news release, she would:

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    n

  • “Introduce minimum service levels on critical national infrastructure – introducing primary legislation in the first 30 days of government.”
  • n

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    n

  • “Ensure strike action has significant support from union members by raising the minimum threshold for voting in favour of strike action from 40% to 50%, and expanding this rule across all sectors.”
  • n

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    n

  • “Increase the minimum notice period for strike action from two weeks to four weeks.”
  • n

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    n

  • “Implement a cooling off period so that unions can no longer strike as many times as they like in the six month period after a ballot.”
  • n

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    n

  • “Put an end to members receiving tax free payments from trade unions on the days they are striking.”
  • n

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As my colleague Jessica Elgot reports in her story on this, Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT, has said the proposals would amount to “the biggest attack on trade union and civil rights since labour unions were legalised in 1871”. He said unions would fight them with mass resistance.

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Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, has this afternoon released a similar statement, saying Truss will be met by “fierce, prolonged resistance” if she tries to push through these changes. Graham said:

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n

Let’s be clear Liz Truss’s madcap proposals are an attempt to outlaw strike action and effective trade unions.

n

This so-called manifesto is a declaration of war on the trade union movement and working people. In effect, it is a charter for massive social discontent.

n

What we have here is an ambitious politician, hawking for the votes of a tiny minority by putting the rights of all workers on the chopping block.

n

At the time of a cost of living crisis, where profiteering not wages is driving inflation, this would-be prime minister has instead chosen to return Britain’s workplaces to the 19th century. It’s Charles Dickens meets 2022.

n

Unite will not bow to threats and bullying and any attempt to make our fight for jobs, pay and conditions illegal will be met with fierce, prolonged resistance.

n

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leader says Truss’s ‘madcap’ plans for unions are ‘attempt to outlaw strike action'”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Tue 26 Jul 2022 13.44 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Tue 26 Jul 2022 04.27 EDT”},{“id”:”62dff09c8f08127940905a59″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Labour says Boris Johnson’s account of his meeting with the former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev (see 2.19pm) suggests he has “something to hide”. This is from Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader.

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n

Boris Johnson has finally admitted to meeting a former KGB agent while Foreign Secretary in the wake of an attack on British soil and after a crucial NATO summit but this mealy-mouthed statement raises more questions than it answers.

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Keeping the British people safe should be a priority of government, but this web of murky relationships shows the Conservatives cannot be trusted with our national security …

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This letter suggests the prime minister has something to hide. He has failed to answer whether a private phone call with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov had been arranged or explain the presence of an undeclared and unidentified guest.

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As foreign secretary, Boris Johnson’s carelessness with words put people in danger. Every day he clings to office, there is new evidence of the risk to national security he poses.

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Boris Johnson has given his fullest public account to date of how he met the former KGB agent and Russian oligarch Alexander Lebedev at a private party in Italy in April 2018, when Johnson was foreign secretary. The party was hosted by Lebedev’s son, Evgeny Lebedev, a friend of Johnson’s who has subsequently been given a peerage.

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Johnson attended the event without the security detail that normally accompanied him as foreign secretary and, although his presence at the event with Alexander Lebedev was first reported in 2019, questions have persisted about what Johnson was up to, and whether it was appropriate. Recently Paul Caruana Galizia from Tortoise reported that Lebedev had arranged for Johnson to take a call from the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, while he was at the party, without government officials monitoring it, but that the call never happened – purportedly because Johnson overslept.

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n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/pcaruanagalizia/status/1537320789216833536″,”id”:”1537320789216833536″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”e4ef4db4-077d-42ac-ad6a-81aff5a8987e”},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

At a hearing with the Commons liaison committee earlier this month, Johnson admitted for the first time that he had met Alexander Lebedev at the party. The committee had various follow-up questions and, in a letter to it released today, Johnson has addressed them. Here are the key points.

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    n

  • Johnson defends his decision not to take his security detail with him to the Lebedev party. He says:
  • n

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Officials were aware in advance that I was attending the social event. Contrary to some reports, my visit was in line with established security protocols under successive foreign secretaries. It would not have been normal practice for civil servants or security staff to have accompanied me to such a private, social occasion. I did not take ministerial papers with me.

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    n

  • He says that, as far as he is aware, he did not discuss official business with Lebedev. If he had discussed official business at a meeting like this – a social occasion where officials were not present – he would have had to report back any “significant content” to the department afterwards. He goes on: “That was not necessary in this case. As far as I am aware, no government business was discussed.” The qualifier “as far as I am aware” may be significant, and my colleague Dan Sabbagh offered one potential explanation for Johnson’s lack of awareness on this point in a story he wrote earlier this month. Dan said:
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On the Saturday night, Johnson is understood to have got heavily drunk at the event, meaning that it was unlikely that much of substance was discussed between the newspaper owner and the then foreign secretary.

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  • Johnson says his meeting with Alexander Lebedev at the party “was not a formal meeting, nor something that was pre-arranged”.
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  • Johnson implies that his contacts with Evgeny Lebedev were no more inappropriate than Labour’s. He says it was Lord Mandelson, when he was business secretary, who allowed the Lebedevs to buy the Evening Standard in 2009. And he says the shadow cabinet had “considerable engagement” with Evgeny Lebedev in the period until 2016, when it used to disclose details of meetings with senior media figures. Since then, Labour has stopped publishing information about these meetings, “despite a commitment following the Leveson inquiry”, Johnson says.
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The SNP has accused Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor and Tory leadership candidate, of using “warped logic” to justify his decision to oppose allowing a second independence referendum. In a response to Sunak’s column in the Scottish Daily Mail (see 10.56am), Kirsten Oswald, the party’s deputy leader at Westminster, said:

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Rishi Sunak’s warped logic appears to be that the people of Scotland cannot be given a say over their constitutional future because the UK is in such a mess. It is precisely because the UK is lagging behind neighbouring countries on a range of wealth and equality indicators – as demonstrated in the recent Scottish government paper – that independence for Scotland is essential.

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The longer Scotland remains tied to a failing Westminster system, the poorer we will become as a result.

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The Tories put the exact case that Rishi Sunak is making to the people of Scotland at every election, and they lose every election by a landslide. It’s clear that neither of the Tory candidates have put any thought into their Scotland strategy, which does not bode well for either of them becoming prime minister.

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accuses Sunak of using ‘warped logic’ to justify opposing second independence referendum”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Tue 26 Jul 2022 13.44 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Tue 26 Jul 2022 04.27 EDT”},{“id”:”62dfd52d8f08ecc573bbfc88″,”elements”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Hi. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Rachel Hall. I’ll be here for the rest of the day, including covering the Talk TV/Sun Tory leadership debate at 6pm.

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And talking of debates, here is more on the YouGov poll of Tory members who watched last night’s BBC debate. The results are good for Liz Truss – in fact, so good for her that (unless the Tory members being sampled by YouGov are seriously unrepresentative of the acting voting membership, which seems unlikely) it is increasingly hard to see how Rishi Sunak wins.

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  • Conservative members think Truss performed best by 50% to 39%, the poll suggests.
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  • Truss was deemed to have performed better than Sunak on all eight debate topics covered by the poll, the findings suggest. (See 12.04pm.)
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  • Truss also came across as more in touch with ordinary people, likeable and trustworthy. The only measure on which Sunak did outperform Truss was looking prime ministerial – although, even on this measure, he was only ahead by 43% to 42%.
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n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/YouGov/status/1551885482619031552″,”id”:”1551885482619031552″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”8248f190-286b-457b-93d2-1db0ce2afee1″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Although debates can change perceptions of a candidate, more often they don’t, and more often debating polling just reflects what people thought of the candidates before the debate took place. In broad terms, that seems to be the case with this poll. Last week a YouGov poll of Tory members had Truss leading Sunak by 62% to 38%.

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Today’s poll results suggest Sunak may have outperformed the baseline – ie, he scored better than expected given that the audience (Tory members) favoured Truss in the first place – but not by enough to overcome his initial handicap.

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A second Scottish independence referendum is “the wrong priority at the worst possible moment”, Tory leadership candidate Rishi Sunak has written in a column for the Scottish Daily Mail on Tuesday.

Both he and rival Liz Truss have spoken out against the idea of holding another vote, with Truss stating last week that she would not agree to a request from the Scottish Government under any circumstances.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon last week branded the two hopefuls “hypocrites” in response to their comments.

In his column, Sunak said the United Kingdom is the “most successful political union in history, and has stood the test of time in withstanding some of the greatest challenges we have ever faced”.

He wrote:

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Working together and uniting is what made us such a formidable force on the world stage.

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Scotland has achieved so much as part of the UK, and the UK has achieved so much because of Scotland. We can build on that success for the future, and I have a plan to do it.

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In the same way that the might of our union stepped up to help people in all corners of the UK during the pandemic, it’s going to have to help people through the immediate months and challenges ahead.

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I am clear that another referendum is the wrong priority at the worst possible moment.

n

The SNP are wrong to try and tear the country apart when we should be pulling together. Why aren’t they talking about the drugs crisis in Scotland or how we can get more money into Scottish workers’ pockets?

n

Just as I want to be more accountable to people in every corner of the United Kingdom, so too does the SNP need to be more accountable for their responsibilities.

n

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The Tory MP added that the UK government cannot “just stop a referendum, we also need to drive down support for independence, too”.

He said:

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n

We need to win the argument and show that you can be a patriotic Scot and a proud advocate of our United Kingdom at the same time. One is not exclusive to the other.

n

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To do so, the former chancellor suggested Westminster should put an end to the “devolve and forget mentality” and instead become “the most active UK government since devolution began” by investing more funding directly into local communities.

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Keir Starmer has said a Labour government would fix “broken” water and energy markets through regulation before nationalising the railways because of ballooning post-pandemic debt.

“,”elementId”:”c0ca5579-f1b2-4569-812e-6366bf1105a5″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

The Labour leader distanced himself from his own pledge when he was running for the party’s leadership in 2019 to support “common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.

He told BBC Breakfast:

“,”elementId”:”b6d33f69-ead8-4ec5-a9cb-9349c10e6de9″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.BlockquoteBlockElement”,”html”:”

n

We’ve got to recognise that after the pandemic we’re in a different situation financially to the situation that we were in before, and we want a responsible government that says if we’re going to do something we will tell you how we’re going to pay for it.

n

The single most important thing is how we grow the economy, re-energise the economy, and that can’t be reduced to a discussion about nationalisation.

n

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Starmer stressed his “pragmatic” approach, saying that for most utilities “the answer is going to lie in regulating the market, changing the market, rather than simply taking things into public ownership”.

However, he said Labour would stick to plans to nationalise the railways if it won the next election.

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Good morning.

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Last night Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak clashed in a fierce TV debate over tax cuts, China and inflation.

This morning, politicians have been sharing their views. One of Truss’ supporters, Simon Clarke, chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News there had been “aggressive moments”, while conceding that the overall tenor had been “respectful”.

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He added:

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n

I think there were some pretty aggressive moments at the outset from Rishi towards Liz in terms of interrupting her as she tried to set out her case, but by and large I think the debate was held in a reasonable spirit reflecting, obviously, the importance of the issues.

n

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Labour leader Keir Starmer’s appraisal to BBC Breakfast was more damning:

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n

I watched as much as I could bear of it, because it showed just the two contenders taking lumps out of each other, talking over each other, talking about clothing and earrings instead of the health service.

n

So if ever there was an example of a party that is absolutely lost the plot, lost any sense of purpose then it was that debate last night.

n

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Meanwhile, MP David Davis dismissed the suggestion that Rishi Sunak was “mansplaining” to Liz Truss as “spin”. He told Sky News: “Sometimes it’s important to intervene in debates.”

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You can read the Guardian’s chief political correspondent Jess Elgot’s full report of the debates here:

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Here’s what’s on the agenda for today:

18:00 Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will face questions from Sun readers on the Sun website and TalkTV.

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It’s also Truss’s 47th birthday today.

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I’ll be keeping you updated for the rest of the morning on all the key events in government. Do get in touch with anything we’ve missed at rachel.hall@theguardian.com.

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Filters BETA

Debate suspended after medical issue, says News UK

News UK says there has been a medical issue, and the debate will resume soon. This is from the Sun’s Noa Hoffman.

News UK spokeswoman: “There's been a medical issue, it's not a security issue and the candidates are okay – if we can get back on air we will” #TalkTV

— Noa Hoffman (@hoffman_noa) July 26, 2022

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News UK spokeswoman: “There’s been a medical issue, it’s not a security issue and the candidates are okay – if we can get back on air we will” #TalkTV

— Noa Hoffman (@hoffman_noa) July 26, 2022

Here is the moment when the debate was interrupted by the sound of a crash in the studio.

The leadership debate has just gone off the air after a loud crash pic.twitter.com/FpM9O0Q3G8

— Alexander Brown (@AlexofBrown) July 26, 2022

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Talk TV/Sun debate halted after Truss interrupted by sound of crash in studio

The next question is about winter fuel bills.

And whether Sunak has the guts to stand up to Vladimir Putin if he turns off the gas taps this winter.

Yes, says Sunak. He says he increased funding for the armed forces, and approved a sanctions package. It requires toughness to stand up to Putin. And that will involve recognise what might happen to energy bills, and having the “resolve” to carry on standing up to Putin.

McCann asks Truss how she will keep people supporting her when the cost of standing up to Putin is immense.

Truss says the cost of not standing up to him would be worse. He would go on.

Something has crashed on set. It sounds as though something has collapsed. The broadcast has stopped.

Truss looked shocked.

Truss and Sunak both says they support fracking, if local communities are in favour.

And they both say they will keep the fuel duty cuts already in place.

Truss says Sunak’s policies are making the UK less competitive.

If you raise corporation tax too high, you get less money into the exchequer, she says.

She says we are projected to have the lowest growth in the G7. That is about jobs, she says.

Sunak says Sun readers are sensible enough to know that you do not get something for nothing.

So the question is – how do you pay for things? He thinks it is reasonable to ask big companies to pay more, he says.

He says he has spent his life in business. Of course he cares about competitiveness. The key thing is to get firms to invest. So he will cut taxes for businesses that invest in the economy.

Truss says Sunak’s tax rises were ‘morally wrong’

The next question from a woman who asks if her family should go vegetarian. She talks about the cost of meat.

Truss says she would cut red tape for farmers and focus on food production. She also wants resilience in the food supply.

She says she is the proud representative of a rural constituency. They produce good meat, she says.

Q: But often it is not affordable?

That is why she wants to help farmers produce food more cheaply. She would do that by cutting regulation for farmers.

Sunak says lots of families are facing rising bill. She hopes the questioner will be getting some of the support already on offer. He wants to get inflation out of the system, so the problems do not get worse, he says.

He says supermarkets should be held to account. He represents a rural area with many farmers. The supermarkets should not be exploiting the farmers, he says.

He wants supply chains to be fair. Shops should not be passing on price increases that are not right.

Truss says she wants to tackle inflation too. The Bank of England thinks it will fall.

On food bills, she says she wants to ensure people keep more of their own money.

It is “morally wrong” to put up taxes for ordinary people when it is not necessary, and when the Tory manifesto said the party would not do that.

Sunak says what is “morally wrong” is asking our children and grandchildren to pick up the bills we are not prepared to meet now.

He says it is fair to ask companies to pay a bit more through corporation tax. They received a lot of help during the pandemic. Truss wants to cut taxes for big business, he says.

Truss says that is a misrepresentation. (She wants to scrap a planned rise.)

Asked about their experience of the NHS, Sunak says his grandfather has just come out of hospital, and his daughter has needed A&E treatment. Truss says she has called 111 recently, and had a good experience, and her daughter has received treatment recently.

Truss says she will use general taxation to fill gap in NHS funding left when she scraps national insurance rise

McCann puts it to Sunak that money on its own has not worked.

Sunak says technology offers big potential too, like blood screening technology. He says he would like to see more specialised hubs where surgeons can work very effectively. Using innovations will address the backlogs.

He says he has published a plan saying from day one tackling the NHS backlog will be his number one priority.

McCann asks Truss where the extra money for the NHs will come from if she scraps the health and social care levy.

Truss says she is committed to the extra money for the NHs already promised. She would fund it from general taxation, she says.

She is committed to the 40 new hospitals the government has agreed to build.

(Except, of course, they aren’t new hospitals.)

She says she wants to give more doctors on the frontline freedom to deliver.

Sunak stresses funding, Truss decentralisation, as candidates quizzed on NHS

John Hughes from Birmingham asks a question. He was diagnosed with cancer. He has had to rely on a charity for help, he says. He has had no help from cancer nurses. Why is the NHS broken?

Sunak says he grew up in an NHS family. He knows what a difference healthcare can make.

The NHS is under strain because it is recovering from Covid. It is under pressure. People are wating for care. He made sure the NHS got the funding it needed, through the national insurance rise. That was not easy and he got criticised for it. But it was the right thing to do, he says.

That is why people can be reassured the NHS is safe in his hands, he says.

Truss says she is incredibly sorry to hear about John’s experience. She says her mum worked as a nurse in cancer research.

She says there is too much micro-managing in the NHS. People should not be directing everything from Whitehall. She wants to give more power locally.

Kate McCann says, since they are both Sun readers, they can ask the first questions.

(Hardly typical Sun readers, though.)

Truss goes first. She says the green levy has put extra money on people’s bills. What would he do on day one to cut costs for people?

Sunak says he was going to ask Truss how she is spending her birthday, since it is her birthday.

He says, as chancellor, one of the last things he did was put in place support for people with energy bills. The most vulnerable people will get £1,200. If costs are going to go even higher, of course he would come back and do more. That is what he has done.

But Truss wants to borrow more, he says. That puts money on the nation’s credit card.

Truss says she has had a great birthday.

The issue is anaemic growth, she says. We have the lowest growth projected in the G7. She says higher taxes will increase the chances of a recession. She knows that that means. She grew up in Paisley during a recession.

Liz Truss says the next election will be about the cost of living. As PM she will put money back in people’s pockets from day one. It is wrong the tax burden is the highest it has been for 70 years.

She says she is someone who does what she says. She has delivered on Brexit, on trade deals and on standing up to Vladimir Putin.

She will run a government of all talents, she says.

Rishi Sunak starts.

He says the challenges we face are immense. But there are opportunities too, not least because of Brexit, which he was proud to vote for, he says (remininding us, by implication, Liz Truss didn’t).

Talk TV/Sun Tory leadership debate starts

The debate is starting.

Kate McCann from Talk TV is hosting. She says the audience is a mixture of Tory and floating voters.

She asks Victoria Newton, editor in chief of the Sun, what her readers want to hear from the candidates. Newton says first of all they are interested in the cost of living. But they also want to hear about immigration and Brexit, she claims.

She says Sun readers tends to be floating voters. That is why politicians care about what they think, she claims.

According to Hugo Gye at the i, Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, has been told by Liz Truss’s campaign to tone down her attacks on Rishi Sunak. She was criticised yesterday for a tweet criticising Sunak for having expensive clothes.

Dorries bound: Culture sec has been asked to rein in her attacks on Sunak a bit after they got so aggressive they overshadowed the first head-to-head TV debate.

Story @theipaper: https://t.co/mvLtGhkXjm

— Hugo Gye (@HugoGye) July 26, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/HugoGye/status/1551972739598237696″,”id”:”1551972739598237696″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”8c666f4b-1d2e-4e07-a41c-e31f8bb3c453″}}”>

Dorries bound: Culture sec has been asked to rein in her attacks on Sunak a bit after they got so aggressive they overshadowed the first head-to-head TV debate.

Story @theipaper: https://t.co/mvLtGhkXjm

— Hugo Gye (@HugoGye) July 26, 2022

Liz Truss speaking to Conservative party members at Fontwell Park racecourse in Arundel, England, today. Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Truss and Sunak take part in Talk TV/Sun debate

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will be taking part in their second one-to-one televised debate. It starts at 6pm, and it is organised by Talk TV and the Sun.

Talk TV’s political editor, Kate McCann, will be hosting. She was meant to be appearing alongside Harry Cole, the Sun’s political editor, but he has tested positive for Covid.

Was incredibly excited for tonight’s @TheSun Showdown but disaster strikes.

Covid finally got me for the first time with spectacularly bad timing.

Gutted to miss it but @KateEMcCann and co will ace it with the brilliant @TalkTV crew

And good luck @RishiSunak and @trussliz

🤒 pic.twitter.com/I9QnTML7hX

— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) July 26, 2022

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Books of condolence have been opened in memory of David Trimble as political leaders, both locally and internationally, hailed his contribution to securing peace in Northern Ireland, PA Media reports. PA says:

The 77-year-old peer and ex-leader of the Ulster Unionist party was one of the principal architects of the Good Friday/Belfast agreement that ended decades of conflict in the region.

Lord Trimble, who jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with late SDLP leader John Hume, died yesterday following an illness.

His death comes amid another political crisis at Stormont, with the DUP blocking the creation of a powersharing administration in protest at Brexit’s Northern Ireland protocol.

The Northern Ireland assembly will hold a special sitting next Tuesday to pay tribute to Lord Trimble.

His funeral will take place in Lisburn on Monday with the service to be held at Harmony Hill Presbyterian Church at 12.30pm.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Sinn Fein councillor Tina Black (centre), with Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alliance party councillor Michelle Kelly and SDLP councillor Donal Lyons, with the book of condolence opened at Belfast City Hall for David Trimble.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Sinn Fein councillor Tina Black (centre), with Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alliance party councillor Michelle Kelly and SDLP councillor Donal Lyons, with the book of condolence opened at Belfast City Hall for David Trimble. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

Labour pledges to fast-track rape and domestic violence cases through courts

Rape and domestic violence cases will be fast-tracked through the courts under a Labour government so that no victim has to wait more than a year for justice, Keir Starmer has pledged. My colleague Helen Pidd has the story here.

Questions from readers answered

Here are answers to some of the questions people have submitted through our experimental widget.

Truss and Sunak’s spending plans

Am I correct in thinking that neither candidate for PM have said anything about their spending priorities, let alone how that reconcile their proposed tax cuts with the increasing demand to provide even basic government services?

They have talked about spending plans a bit – but mainly to promise extra spending (on defence, for example, or for the Border Force). The IFS says Truss’s plans would almost certainly have to involve cuts in public spending but – beyond a hint from one of her supporters that existing government spending plans are not set in stone – she has not addressed this point properly at all. If you want a list of all their polices, Public First has a good tracker here.

What will happen to the loser?

Hi Andrew, SJ here. I thought it was interesting that both Liz and Rishi said they would offer one another cabinet positions. I struggle to imagine a world though, where either of them would offer one of the big offices of state and it is also difficult to believe they would accept a less-prestigious cabinet position. What do you see being the most likely scenario with the losing candidate? Cabinet position? Backbench grandee? Or even leaving politics altogether (more likely in Rishi’s case than with Liz). Thanks!

The normal procedure in these circumstances is to offer a rival such a junior post that they feel obliged to return to the backbenches. This is what Boris Johnson did in 2019, when he offered Jeremy Hunt demotion from foreign secretary to defence secretary. Hunt said no. But given that the two candidates disagree so fundamentally on the economy, the winner might not even bother and might just exclude the other one from their government altogether. It may also depend on the size of the victory margin. After winning 65%/35%, Truss would feel much more confident despatching Sunak to the wilderness than after a 55%/45% victory.

How will the winner move on?

How will the winning candidate for PM manage to unite the Tory Party once they have won? How will the new PM be able to then switch to a more moderate tone to try and win the next election ?

More easily than you think. At the moment Truss is making a lot of rightwing announcements because she needs to win over a rightwing audience. Once the focus changes (assuming she wins – but the same principle would be true for Sunak), and she needs to focus on the parliamentary party and the electorate at large, she will change her tone. (It is not as if she hasn’t had any practice.)

Number of debates

Hi Andrew all these debates in the Tory leadership contest seem to be complete overkill especially since most people have no vote. It also seems that there are more of these debates than for previous such contests – is this correct? Where there any for the 2020 Labour leadership contest?

I haven’t done a count, but I think we are getting at least as many debates and hustings as in 2019. It is just that you have forgotten most of them because quite quickly they become very repetitive. And there were plenty of Labour events in early 2020 too, until Covid closed them down.

Privileges committee

Hi Andrew – how likely is it that the Privileges Committee find Boris Johnson has broken the ministerial code, and that he is subsequently is suspended and faces a recall petition? And how likely is it, in addition, that he is recalled and faces a byelection?|

The committee is not specifically investigating whether Johnson broke the ministerial code – a matter for government, not parliament – but if it were to find that Johnson did deliberately mislead parliament, that would amount to a finding that the ministerial code had been broken.

I think it is already clear that the committee will conclude that MPs were misled by what Johnson said, and that this amounts to a contempt of parliament. Johnson has admitted himself that he passed on duff information. Whether or not they conclude he lied is less clear. They will want a conclusion that the committee supports unanimously, and that is likely to be accepted by the Commons as a whole, and so they may find it hard to justify a conclusion saying bluntly: “He lied.” But they might; they seem very serious about gathering evidence. At the very least I expect the committee to say Johnson was cavalier about MPs being misled, and that this was unaccepable.

Will they recommend a suspension of at least 10 days (which could trigger recall)? I don’t know. But any punishment would have to be put to the Commons for a vote, and I think Harriet Harman will want a report that receives widespread backing from MPs, not a split along party lines.

If Johnson does get suspended for 10 days, campaigners would have to get 10% of voters in his constituency to sign a petition for a recall election to take place. I guess that would be easily done.

One other possibility – the new prime minister could ask MPs to vote to halt the privileges committee inquiry. That would be hugely controversial, because it would be another example of Tory MPs voting to protect one of their own. But Liz Truss may feel that a row about that is preferrable to six months’ of stories about the former party leader being a liar. It would be the equivalent of Gerald Ford granting Richard Nixon a pardon in 1976.

Scottish independence

Hi Andrew, do you think a Conservative or Labour government will ever allow a second Scottish Independence Referendum? If so, under what circumstances do you think they would concede one?||||If not, does that present a constitutional crisis since the power technically exists to hold one, but it’s being withheld regardless of the case for it?

It is definitely possible at some point in the future. Note, for example, how Rishi Sunak is saying today that a second referendum is “the wrong priority at the worst possible moment” – not that it should never happen. But 2030 the argument that the 2014 was meant to settle matters for a generation will not have much grip. And if public support for independence in Scotland were to start regularly reaching 55/60%, then at that point I think Westminster would have to respond.

Race and the leadership contest

Why is the issue of race not being mentioned? Everyone knows that there is a core of the Tory membership that will never vote for a non-white individual as their leader. Sunak is too weak to challenge such individuals and Truss seems content to simply hoover up the votes of such individuals. The Rwanda policy, which even Tom Tugendhat supports, shows how anti-foreigner views are being chased after and not confronted.

You’re right. There has been little media discussion of whether Sunak not being white is a problem for his chances. But mostly, I think, that reflects a media consensus that race is not a significant factor at all in the contest (and that going on about it might actually reinforce prejudice). The Conservative party has changed enormously over the past decade, and the line-up in the early stages of the contest – which was easily the most diverse of any leadership contest for any major party in UK history – ought to show that ethnicity does not stop people succeeding right at the top of politics anymore.

It is also the case that it is impossible to tell whether ethnicity affects people’s chances of getting elected in a contest like this. There is some evidence for the impact it has in a general election, and that does show that Conservative-leaning voters are slightly less inclined to vote for a non-white candidate. But the impact is marginal (and not enough to make one think it would be a decisive factor in the Truss v Sunak contest). This is what the evidence says according to The British General Election of 2019, the definitive study of the contest.

As at other recent elections, felding [an ethnic minority] candidate appears to have made a difference to the vote secured by Conservative candidates, but not by their Labour counterparts. Where the Conservatives felded an ethnic minority candidate in 2019 after not having done so in 2017, their vote fell on average by −1.2 points. In contrast, Conservative support increased by +2.1 points where either a white candidate or an ethnic minority candidate was felded on both occasions. This discrepancy cannot be accounted for by the incumbency status of the candidate or the ethnic composition of the constituency, while it is apparent in both Leave and Remain seats. What is more, where the Conservative candidate in 2019 was white but the previous candidate was from a minority background in 2017, the average rise in the Conservative vote was, at +2.8 points, a little higher than elsewhere. The relatively socially conservative character of Conservative support still appears to be refected in a reluctance by a few of the party’s potential voters to back a more ethnically diverse parliamentary party.