Levelling up invoice consists of no funding to make levelling up occur, say MPs – UK politics dwell | Politics

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Levelling up invoice doesn’t embody funding wanted to make levelling up occur, say MPs

Though the Home of Commons is just not sitting over the summer season, MPs who chair choose committees are nonetheless doing a little work and a few of them have been sending out letters. Clive Betts, the Labour MP who chairs the levelling up committee, says that when Greg Clark changed Michael Gove as levelling up secretary in July, he requested Betts to inform him over the summer season what the committee considered the levelling up and regeneration invoice.

Not a lot appears to be the reply. At present Betts has launched the letter he has despatched to Clark on behalf of his committee giving an evaluation of the invoice and right here is the important thing paragraph.

It’s the committee’s view that the foremost software to attain levelling up can be by means of applicable funding to these areas that want it most. This funding will help make progress on the levelling up missions associated to public transport and native connectivity; remodeling digital connectivity; bettering training outcomes; growing the variety of adults who full top quality expertise coaching; and growing wholesome life expectancy. Not one of the provisions within the invoice will instantly contribute to creating progress in direction of reaching these missions – aside from setting them. There may be additionally no funding for levelling up related to the invoice.

Like all choose committees, this one has a slender Conservative majority.

And in an announcement to journalists Betts stated:

In its present type, the invoice does little to reassure that levelling up will show to be greater than only a slogan and that we’ll have significant change in native communities throughout the nation. In key areas, it’s unclear how the federal government intends to drive change and so they are but to decide to the spending that’s essential to stage up the nation.

Our inquiry has targeted on the planning provisions within the invoice, which might be described as loosely-connected proposals to tinker with the present system, hopefully reaching some enchancment. It has been troublesome to conduct scrutiny as a consequence of loads of the element of the provisions having not but been revealed.

Boris Johnson told a news conference in Kyiv that Vladimir Putin had been “insane” to invade Ukraine as he praised the country’s resistance.

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If we’re paying in our energy bills for the evils of Vladimir Putin, the people of Ukraine are paying in their blood.

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As PA Media reports, Johnson said “like one of those indomitable Ukrainian boxers” the country “came off the ropes and hit him with an uppercut that sent Putin’s armies reeling from Kyiv and a hook to drive him from Kharkiv”. He added:

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Out of the ashes of your towns and cities, out of the monstrous scares that are being left by Putin’s missiles, something beautiful is blooming and it is a flower that the whole world can see and admire, and that is the incomparable will of the Ukrainians to resist.

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pays tribute to ‘incomparable will of Ukrainians to withstand’ at information convention in Kyiv”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Wed 24 Aug 2022 16.05 BST”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First revealed on Wed 24 Aug 2022 09.04 BST”},{“id”:”63062aab8f088e8ce8eaf902″,”parts”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Boris Johnson has announced a further package of military support for Ukraine on his visit. The UK is contributing a £54m package of drones and “loitering munitions”, missiles that stay airborne until they identify a target to attack.

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In its news release about the package, No 10 said:

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This package of unmanned air systems will be a step up in the Ukrainian’s current capability, improving their long range surveillance and defensive targeting ability.

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It includes 850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones, which are specifically designed for use in towns and villages, and are deployed to detect approaching enemy forces.

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Military personnel can be trained to fly the helicopter drones, which are smaller than a mobile phone, in under 20 minutes. Each drone feeds back live video and still images to allow forces on the ground to defend urban areas safely.

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In a statement Johnson said:

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Today’s package of support will give the brave and resilient Ukrainian armed forces another boost in capability, allowing them to continue to push back Russian forces and fight for their freedom.

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What happens in Ukraine matters to us all, which is why I am here today to deliver the message that the United Kingdom is with you and will be with you for the days and months ahead, and you can and will win.

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This is Johnson’s third visit to Kyiv since the Russian invasion in February. To mark his support for Ukraine, Johnson was awarded the order of liberty, the country’s highest award for foreign nationals.

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Boris Johnson has revealed that he is in Kyiv for what will almost certainly be his final meeting as PM with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president.

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Although the House of Commons is not sitting over the summer, MPs who chair select committees are still doing some work and some of them have been sending out letters. Clive Betts, the Labour MP who chairs the levelling up committee, says that when Greg Clark replaced Michael Gove as levelling up secretary in July, he asked Betts to tell him over the summer what the committee thought of the levelling up and regeneration bill.

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Not much seems to be the answer. Today Betts has released the letter he has sent to Clark on behalf of his committee giving an assessment of the bill and here is the key paragraph.

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It is the committee’s view that the main tool to achieve levelling up will be through appropriate funding to those areas that need it most. This funding will help in making progress on the levelling up missions related to public transport and local connectivity; transforming digital connectivity; improving education outcomes; increasing the number of adults who complete high quality skills training; and increasing healthy life expectancy. None of the provisions in the bill will directly contribute to making progress towards achieving these missions – other than setting them. There is also no funding for levelling up associated with the bill.

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Like all select committees, this one has a narrow Conservative majority.

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And in a statement to journalists Betts said:

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In its current form, the bill does little to reassure that levelling up will prove to be more than just a slogan and that we will have meaningful change in local communities across the country. In key areas, it is unclear how the government intends to drive change and they are yet to commit to the spending that is necessary to level up the country.

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Our inquiry has focused on the planning provisions in the bill, which can be described as loosely-connected proposals to tinker with the current system, hopefully achieving some improvement. It has been difficult to conduct scrutiny due to a lot of the detail of the provisions having not yet been published.

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Keir Starmer has insisted that Labour party is just as committed to supporting Ukraine as the government. On a visit to Salisbury Plain, where he met British and Ukrainian soldiers, he told journalists that Britain was united on this issue. He said:

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Six months after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, I’ve been here in Salisbury Plain watching Ukrainian troops being trained by British troops with live rounds, simulating the situation they are going to be facing.

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That’s given me the opportunity to say and to reiterate Labour’s commitment and support for the Ukrainian people, and our unshakeable support for Nato and our allies.

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I’ve been so impressed with the training I’ve seen here, that the global reputation of British forces is of grit, of class and that sort of steely determination and courage on the battlefield.

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My mission, my message to the Ukrainian people, to our troops, our Nato allies, is that on the issue of defending Ukraine against Russian aggression, we stand united. We will not be divided politically in the United Kingdom on this and I’ve been able to deliver that message first-hand amongst this very, very impressive training.

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The Scottish government has this morning published the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report for 2021-22. It is produced independently by government statisticians and it sets out how much government revenue is raised in Scotland, and how much government spending is directed at Scotland. Its publication every year provides new evidence for use in the debate about whether Scotland could afford to be independent.

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There is a summary of the findings here, and the full report is here.

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In its take on the figures, the SNP-led Scottish government says: “Scotland’s net fiscal balance has improved rapidly since last year, reflecting the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the phasing out of pandemic health restrictions and support schemes.”

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But Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary in the Conservative UK government, said the report showed how “people and their families [in Scotland] profit massively from being a part of a robust, resilient UK”.

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In his formal response to the report Jack stated it confirmed that public spending in Scotland per capita was £1,963 above the UK common in 2021-22, however that income per capita was £221 under the UK common. He stated this meant the “union dividend” (the worth of larger spending, making allowance for decrease income) was akin to £2,184 for everyone.

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Different unionist politicians have made the identical argument. Daniel Johnson MSP, the finance spokesperson for Scottish Labour, stated the report confirmed that “independence would require tax will increase or spending cuts at a time when these actions would shatter households as their payments spiral”.

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The report confirms that Scotland’s internet fiscal stability is worse than the UK’s. Right here is the important thing chart. Jacks says it reveals “Scotland’s deficit” standing at £23.7bn.

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The Fraser of Allander Institute, an financial thinktank based mostly on the College of Strathclyde, has produced a helpful briefing on what the GERS figures imply. Right here is an extract.

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n

GERS takes the present constitutional settlement as given. If the very goal of independence is to take totally different selections concerning the kind of financial system and society that we dwell in, then it’s attainable {that a} set of accounts based mostly upon the world right now might look totally different, over the long run, in an impartial Scotland.

n

That stated, GERS does present an correct image of the place Scotland is in 2022. In doing so it units the place to begin for a dialogue concerning the fast selections, alternatives and challenges that should be addressed by these advocating new fiscal preparations. And right here the problem is stark, with a doubtless deficit far in extra of the UK as a complete, different comparable nations or that which is deemed to be sustainable within the long-term. It is just not sufficient to say ‘every part can be tremendous’ or ‘have a look at this nation, they will run a wise fiscal stability so why can’t Scotland?’. Concrete proposals and concepts are wanted.

n

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Liz Truss, the foreign secretary and frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest, has said that if she becomes prime minister, she will declassify more UK intelligence to expose what Russia is doing to undermine the west. In an article for the Daily Telegraph she says:

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n

When malign actors are ready to peddle falsehoods, our duty is to ensure the world hears the truth. That is why we set up the Government Information Cell to counter the Kremlin’s false narratives. We will continue to step up our work to counter the efforts of Russia and other authoritarian regimes to use disinformation to sow confusion and undermine global stability, drawing on the skills and tools at our disposal alongside our international partners.

n

I will go further as prime minister by doing everything possible – including declassifying more intelligence – to expose Putin’s playbook to the world. My government will use intelligence strategically to reveal the Kremlin’s attempts to undermine and destabilise freedom-loving democracies. Where there are lies, they will be exposed, where there is barbarism, we will call it out. I will take the same tough approach to counter malign activity from potentially hostile states and others who threaten global security.

n

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She also says that as PM she will “do everything I can to ensure the flame of freedom in Ukraine continues to burn bright”.

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says as PM she would declassify extra UK intelligence to show what Russia is doing to undermine west”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Wed 24 Aug 2022 16.05 BST”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First revealed on Wed 24 Aug 2022 09.04 BST”},{“id”:”6305f1d58f082fadccfc82e6″,”parts”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

The energy industry’s favoured plan to shield Britain’s households from the soaring cost of energy will cost more than £100bn over two years, Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower, has confirmed. My colleague Joanna Partridge has the story.

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Britain’s households from power disaster ‘will price greater than £100bn'”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Wed 24 Aug 2022 16.05 BST”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First revealed on Wed 24 Aug 2022 09.04 BST”},{“id”:”6305e81e8f088e8ce8eaf5c5″,”parts”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Today is Ukraine’s independence day. It is also the six-month anniversary of the Russian invasion. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, gave an interview to the Today programme to mark the occasion, and here are the main points he made.

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    n

  • Wallace said Russia was in a “very fragile position” in the war. He explained:

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n

I spoke to my intelligence chiefs this morning before coming on; Russia’s advance can be measured in metres per week, not miles.

n

It is grinding in small parts of the country in an attempt to advance – completely opposite of the three-days special operation that it touted at the beginning of this, six months ago.

n

We accept observations of Russian losses to be – if you combine deaths, injuries, desertions – over 80,000 of their armed forces. That’s 80,000 in six months compared to 15,000 they lost in a decade in Afghanistan.

n

I think we are in a position where Russia is in a very fragile position.

n

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    n

  • He said it was possible for Ukraine to retake territory from Russia. Asked if this was realistic, he replied:

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n

I think Ukraine is getting itself into that position. First and foremost, Ukraine already has had throughout this the moral component, as we call it in defence, and if you look at the morale of the Ukrainian forces, it is leagues ahead of the Russian morale, which is poorly-trained troops etc.

n

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    n

  • He rejected claims that support for Ukraine amongst the international community was starting to weaken because of the energy crisis. He said:

  • n

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n

I don’t think that there’s been any wavering, I think that’s what Putin would love the world to do. It’s what he would fantasise, we’d all sort of go back to our sun loungers.

n

The simple reality is we see this as a direct threat not only to Ukraine, but to our values, and the world is still pretty solid and determined.

n

Now, of course, as we see, he will use gas as a weapon. I think we saw yesterday a reduction in parts of the gas pipeline into Europe, deliberately to drive up prices. But, of course, that is why he must not be allowed to be successful in Ukraine in the long term.

n

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Wallace accepted that there had been “a few disagreements about the levels of sanctions” to be imposed on Russia amongst the international community, but overall it was “united against what Putin is doing”, he said.

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    n

  • He said conditions could be tightened for Russians wanting to get visas to visit the UK, but he said he was not convinced an “outright ban” on Russians visiting the UK would be right.

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    n

  • He said some countries were wrong not to respond when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. “The problem has been all the way back to 2014, [when] Russia invaded Crimea, illegally annexed it, after which it was allowed in some nations to stick with it as if nothing had actually modified,” he stated.

  • n

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in ‘very fragile place’ in conflict with Ukraine, says defence secretary Ben Wallace”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Wed 24 Aug 2022 16.05 BST”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First revealed on Wed 24 Aug 2022 09.04 BST”},{“id”:”6305dc5d8f082fadccfc8231″,”parts”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

And here is a full summary of the main lines from Rishi Sunak’s interview with the Today programme.

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    n

  • Sunak refused to commit to voting for Liz Truss’s emergency budget if she becomes prime minister. See 9.04am.

  • n

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    n

  • He defended his decision not to back plans to freeze the energy price cap at the current level – saying this would require too much government borrowing. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are proposing an energy price cap freeze, and many energy companies also want to see the energy price cap frozen at the current level, alongside a mechanism being put in place to compensate them for the income they would lose. Sunak said that the energy companies had not spoken to him directly about their plan. (He seemed to be referring to the Scottish Power proposal for a £100bn rescue plan.) But he said this would involve too much borrowing. He said:

  • n

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n

This is a challenge that is going to be with us for some time. And in that context, we need to make sure that what we’re doing is not only affordable, but also isn’t going to make inflation worse.

n

And at a time when we’re already borrowing an enormous amount of money, I think embarking on policies and programmes that add not just tens of billions, but tens and tens and tens and tens of billions of pounds on a permanent basis to our borrowing are risky, and that’s actually been a debate that we’ve had in this leadership race now.

n

I think that is a gamble with people’s savings, with their pensions, with mortgage rates, in making inflation become more embedded, and that won’t help anybody if that happens, because inflation makes everybody poor. It’s pernicious.

n

So, yes, I am nervous and sceptical about plans that are complacent about that risk.

n

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    n

  • He said plans that implied government did not need to make difficult choices were generally “too good to be true”. He made this point when he was specifically talking about the proposals to freeze the energy price cap, but he also made it clear that he thought some of Liz Truss’s plans came into this category. See 9.04am.

  • n

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    n

  • He said that, in stressing the need for government to take difficult choices, he was following the lead set by Margaret Thatcher. He mentioned her when asked to name the conservative thinker who had influence him most. He said that people who had worked with her endorsed his approach to tackling inflation, not Truss’s. He went on:

  • n

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n

One thing I admire and respect about [Thatcher] … is that she was ready not only to say the straightforward issues that folks can have wished to listen to, she stated the issues which will have been troublesome to listen to however have been proper for the nation, and had the braveness of her convictions. And that’s a regular that I maintain myself to.

n

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    n

  • He refused to simply accept that Labour’s plan to freeze the power value cap for the winter was absolutely costed. He stated the proposal had been “wildly criticised for [the] credibility of that costing”. Sunak was referring particularly to Labour’s declare that £7bn to pay for the plan would come from decrease authorities debt curiosity funds.

  • n

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    n

  • He implied that he was in favour of the federal government telling individuals to make use of much less power this winter. Requested if the federal government ought to be doing this, as different governments are in Europe, Sunak replied:

  • n

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n

We’ve got to take a look at all choices obtainable for us, and there are issues that the builders and plumbing affiliation have talked about which I assumed have been fairly smart, about altering circulate charges on boilers, which I didn’t find out about which can assist cut back power utilization with out individuals seeing any actual impression on how they devour power. So we ought to be taking a look at all of these items.

n

Additionally I might embark on a programme of large power effectivity upgrades in individuals’s houses.

n

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Rajan requested this query as a result of the present authorities, and the Truss marketing campaign, are resisting the concept that individuals ought to be requested to reduce their power use. This place has been fiercely criticised, for instance by the FT columnist Sarah Connor.

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n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/sarahoconnor_/standing/1562099088530837506″,”id”:”1562099088530837506″,”hasMedia”:false,”position”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”supply”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”1df4eb48-8442-4347-bd80-373eaf9e5115″},{“_type”:”mannequin.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement”,”html”:”

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/sarahoconnor_/standing/1562099883712077824″,”id”:”1562099883712077824″,”hasMedia”:false,”position”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”supply”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”3fc198c3-03a2-4ac0-bb44-0540dd2c9786″}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”abstract”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1661328477000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”09.07 BST”,”blockLastUpdated”:1661330894000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”09.48 BST”,”blockFirstPublished”:1661329789000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”09.29 BST”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”09.29″,”title”:”Sunak says freezing power value cap would require an excessive amount of authorities borrowing”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Wed 24 Aug 2022 16.05 BST”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First revealed on Wed 24 Aug 2022 09.04 BST”},{“id”:”6305cb608f082fadccfc819b”,”parts”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Good morning. Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor who will only beat Liz Truss in the Tory leadership contest if multiple polls turn out to be completely wrong, has been giving an interview to the Today programme this morning. He has been accepting plenty of interviews recently, which may partly be related to the fact that he is a confident media peformer, but probably says more about the fact that, as the underdog in the contest, he has nothing to lose. In contrast, Truss has repeatedly refused invitations to setpiece media interviews.

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Speaking to Amol Rajan, the Today presenter, Sunak refused to commit to voting for Truss’s proposed emergency budget in September if she wins. He has already indicated that he would not take a job in her cabinet because he disagrees so strongly with her plan to reverse the national insurance increase that he implemented as chancellor. (He sees it as an unfunded tax cut that would push up inflation and disproportionately benefit the rich.) At the Tory hustings last night in Birmingham Sunak dodged a question about whether he would vote for Truss’s plan if she won. Rajan tried again, and he told Sunak people would like to know whether he would vote against Truss’s planned emergency budget. Again, Sunak would not give an answer. He replied:

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n

I’m not going to engage in these things partly because acting like this race is not over isn’t right.

n

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But elsewhere in the interview he restated his claim that Truss’s tax proposals were essentially implausible. He said:

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n

Governing is hard. Governing involves choices, it involves difficult trade offs.

n

Plans, whether they come from my opponent, or indeed the energy companies or anyone else, who seem to suggest that you can have absolutely everything you want, and you don’t have to make a difficult choice – that you can have lots of tax cuts, you can help people with the cost of living, borrowing doesn’t matter, inflation will take care of itself – if that all sounds a bit too good to be true, I think most people listening will think most things, when they do sound too good to be true, they probably are.

n

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I will post more from the interview shortly. My colleague Gemma McSherry covered the hustings in Birmingham on the blog last night. You can read her coverage here.

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Otherwise it looks relatively quiet today, but here are three things in the diary.

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9.30am: The ONS publishs a report on the impact of sanctions on UK trade with Russia.

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10am: Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, joined Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, in Glasgow at an event to discuss Labour palns to empower commmunities.

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12pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, takes part in an “In Conversation” at the Edinburgh fringe.

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I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

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If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

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Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com

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Key occasions

Boris Johnson told a news conference in Kyiv that Vladimir Putin had been “insane” to invade Ukraine as he praised the country’s resistance.

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n

If we’re paying in our energy bills for the evils of Vladimir Putin, the people of Ukraine are paying in their blood.

n

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As PA Media reports, Johnson said “like one of those indomitable Ukrainian boxers” the country “came off the ropes and hit him with an uppercut that sent Putin’s armies reeling from Kyiv and a hook to drive him from Kharkiv”. He added:

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n

Out of the ashes of your towns and cities, out of the monstrous scares that are being left by Putin’s missiles, something beautiful is blooming and it is a flower that the whole world can see and admire, and that is the incomparable will of the Ukrainians to resist.

n

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pays tribute to ‘incomparable will of Ukrainians to withstand’ at information convention in Kyiv”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Wed 24 Aug 2022 16.05 BST”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First revealed on Wed 24 Aug 2022 09.04 BST”},{“id”:”63062aab8f088e8ce8eaf902″,”parts”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Boris Johnson has announced a further package of military support for Ukraine on his visit. The UK is contributing a £54m package of drones and “loitering munitions”, missiles that stay airborne until they identify a target to attack.

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In its news release about the package, No 10 said:

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n

This package of unmanned air systems will be a step up in the Ukrainian’s current capability, improving their long range surveillance and defensive targeting ability.

n

It includes 850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones, which are specifically designed for use in towns and villages, and are deployed to detect approaching enemy forces.

n

Military personnel can be trained to fly the helicopter drones, which are smaller than a mobile phone, in under 20 minutes. Each drone feeds back live video and still images to allow forces on the ground to defend urban areas safely.

n

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In a statement Johnson said:

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n

Today’s package of support will give the brave and resilient Ukrainian armed forces another boost in capability, allowing them to continue to push back Russian forces and fight for their freedom.

n

What happens in Ukraine matters to us all, which is why I am here today to deliver the message that the United Kingdom is with you and will be with you for the days and months ahead, and you can and will win.

n

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This is Johnson’s third visit to Kyiv since the Russian invasion in February. To mark his support for Ukraine, Johnson was awarded the order of liberty, the country’s highest award for foreign nationals.

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Boris Johnson has revealed that he is in Kyiv for what will almost certainly be his final meeting as PM with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president.

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Although the House of Commons is not sitting over the summer, MPs who chair select committees are still doing some work and some of them have been sending out letters. Clive Betts, the Labour MP who chairs the levelling up committee, says that when Greg Clark replaced Michael Gove as levelling up secretary in July, he asked Betts to tell him over the summer what the committee thought of the levelling up and regeneration bill.

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Not much seems to be the answer. Today Betts has released the letter he has sent to Clark on behalf of his committee giving an assessment of the bill and here is the key paragraph.

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n

It is the committee’s view that the main tool to achieve levelling up will be through appropriate funding to those areas that need it most. This funding will help in making progress on the levelling up missions related to public transport and local connectivity; transforming digital connectivity; improving education outcomes; increasing the number of adults who complete high quality skills training; and increasing healthy life expectancy. None of the provisions in the bill will directly contribute to making progress towards achieving these missions – other than setting them. There is also no funding for levelling up associated with the bill.

n

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Like all select committees, this one has a narrow Conservative majority.

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And in a statement to journalists Betts said:

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n

In its current form, the bill does little to reassure that levelling up will prove to be more than just a slogan and that we will have meaningful change in local communities across the country. In key areas, it is unclear how the government intends to drive change and they are yet to commit to the spending that is necessary to level up the country.

n

Our inquiry has focused on the planning provisions in the bill, which can be described as loosely-connected proposals to tinker with the current system, hopefully achieving some improvement. It has been difficult to conduct scrutiny due to a lot of the detail of the provisions having not yet been published.

n

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Keir Starmer has insisted that Labour party is just as committed to supporting Ukraine as the government. On a visit to Salisbury Plain, where he met British and Ukrainian soldiers, he told journalists that Britain was united on this issue. He said:

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n

Six months after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, I’ve been here in Salisbury Plain watching Ukrainian troops being trained by British troops with live rounds, simulating the situation they are going to be facing.

n

That’s given me the opportunity to say and to reiterate Labour’s commitment and support for the Ukrainian people, and our unshakeable support for Nato and our allies.

n

I’ve been so impressed with the training I’ve seen here, that the global reputation of British forces is of grit, of class and that sort of steely determination and courage on the battlefield.

n

My mission, my message to the Ukrainian people, to our troops, our Nato allies, is that on the issue of defending Ukraine against Russian aggression, we stand united. We will not be divided politically in the United Kingdom on this and I’ve been able to deliver that message first-hand amongst this very, very impressive training.

n

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The Scottish government has this morning published the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) report for 2021-22. It is produced independently by government statisticians and it sets out how much government revenue is raised in Scotland, and how much government spending is directed at Scotland. Its publication every year provides new evidence for use in the debate about whether Scotland could afford to be independent.

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There is a summary of the findings here, and the full report is here.

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In its take on the figures, the SNP-led Scottish government says: “Scotland’s net fiscal balance has improved rapidly since last year, reflecting the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and the phasing out of pandemic health restrictions and support schemes.”

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But Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary in the Conservative UK government, said the report showed how “people and their families [in Scotland] profit massively from being a part of a robust, resilient UK”.

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In his formal response to the report Jack stated it confirmed that public spending in Scotland per capita was £1,963 above the UK common in 2021-22, however that income per capita was £221 under the UK common. He stated this meant the “union dividend” (the worth of larger spending, making allowance for decrease income) was akin to £2,184 for everyone.

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Different unionist politicians have made the identical argument. Daniel Johnson MSP, the finance spokesperson for Scottish Labour, stated the report confirmed that “independence would require tax will increase or spending cuts at a time when these actions would shatter households as their payments spiral”.

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The report confirms that Scotland’s internet fiscal stability is worse than the UK’s. Right here is the important thing chart. Jacks says it reveals “Scotland’s deficit” standing at £23.7bn.

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The Fraser of Allander Institute, an financial thinktank based mostly on the College of Strathclyde, has produced a helpful briefing on what the GERS figures imply. Right here is an extract.

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n

GERS takes the present constitutional settlement as given. If the very goal of independence is to take totally different selections concerning the kind of financial system and society that we dwell in, then it’s attainable {that a} set of accounts based mostly upon the world right now might look totally different, over the long run, in an impartial Scotland.

n

That stated, GERS does present an correct image of the place Scotland is in 2022. In doing so it units the place to begin for a dialogue concerning the fast selections, alternatives and challenges that should be addressed by these advocating new fiscal preparations. And right here the problem is stark, with a doubtless deficit far in extra of the UK as a complete, different comparable nations or that which is deemed to be sustainable within the long-term. It is just not sufficient to say ‘every part can be tremendous’ or ‘have a look at this nation, they will run a wise fiscal stability so why can’t Scotland?’. Concrete proposals and concepts are wanted.

n

“,”elementId”:”30d43fd9-8b9a-43cb-bad2-80789109abef”}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”abstract”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1661335774000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”11.09 BST”,”blockLastUpdated”:1661341682000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”12.48 BST”,”blockFirstPublished”:1661338924000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”12.02 BST”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”12.02″,”title”:”Unionists declare newest public spending figures for Scotland present Scots get ‘union dividend’ of £2,184 per particular person”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Wed 24 Aug 2022 16.05 BST”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First revealed on Wed 24 Aug 2022 09.04 BST”},{“id”:”6305f4548f08b9ef100e057c”,”parts”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Liz Truss, the foreign secretary and frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest, has said that if she becomes prime minister, she will declassify more UK intelligence to expose what Russia is doing to undermine the west. In an article for the Daily Telegraph she says:

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n

When malign actors are ready to peddle falsehoods, our duty is to ensure the world hears the truth. That is why we set up the Government Information Cell to counter the Kremlin’s false narratives. We will continue to step up our work to counter the efforts of Russia and other authoritarian regimes to use disinformation to sow confusion and undermine global stability, drawing on the skills and tools at our disposal alongside our international partners.

n

I will go further as prime minister by doing everything possible – including declassifying more intelligence – to expose Putin’s playbook to the world. My government will use intelligence strategically to reveal the Kremlin’s attempts to undermine and destabilise freedom-loving democracies. Where there are lies, they will be exposed, where there is barbarism, we will call it out. I will take the same tough approach to counter malign activity from potentially hostile states and others who threaten global security.

n

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She also says that as PM she will “do everything I can to ensure the flame of freedom in Ukraine continues to burn bright”.

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says as PM she would declassify extra UK intelligence to show what Russia is doing to undermine west”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Wed 24 Aug 2022 16.05 BST”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First revealed on Wed 24 Aug 2022 09.04 BST”},{“id”:”6305f1d58f082fadccfc82e6″,”parts”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

The energy industry’s favoured plan to shield Britain’s households from the soaring cost of energy will cost more than £100bn over two years, Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower, has confirmed. My colleague Joanna Partridge has the story.

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Britain’s households from power disaster ‘will price greater than £100bn'”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Wed 24 Aug 2022 16.05 BST”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First revealed on Wed 24 Aug 2022 09.04 BST”},{“id”:”6305e81e8f088e8ce8eaf5c5″,”parts”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Today is Ukraine’s independence day. It is also the six-month anniversary of the Russian invasion. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, gave an interview to the Today programme to mark the occasion, and here are the main points he made.

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    n

  • Wallace said Russia was in a “very fragile position” in the war. He explained:

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n

I spoke to my intelligence chiefs this morning before coming on; Russia’s advance can be measured in metres per week, not miles.

n

It is grinding in small parts of the country in an attempt to advance – completely opposite of the three-days special operation that it touted at the beginning of this, six months ago.

n

We accept observations of Russian losses to be – if you combine deaths, injuries, desertions – over 80,000 of their armed forces. That’s 80,000 in six months compared to 15,000 they lost in a decade in Afghanistan.

n

I think we are in a position where Russia is in a very fragile position.

n

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    n

  • He said it was possible for Ukraine to retake territory from Russia. Asked if this was realistic, he replied:

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n

I think Ukraine is getting itself into that position. First and foremost, Ukraine already has had throughout this the moral component, as we call it in defence, and if you look at the morale of the Ukrainian forces, it is leagues ahead of the Russian morale, which is poorly-trained troops etc.

n

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    n

  • He rejected claims that support for Ukraine amongst the international community was starting to weaken because of the energy crisis. He said:

  • n

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n

I don’t think that there’s been any wavering, I think that’s what Putin would love the world to do. It’s what he would fantasise, we’d all sort of go back to our sun loungers.

n

The simple reality is we see this as a direct threat not only to Ukraine, but to our values, and the world is still pretty solid and determined.

n

Now, of course, as we see, he will use gas as a weapon. I think we saw yesterday a reduction in parts of the gas pipeline into Europe, deliberately to drive up prices. But, of course, that is why he must not be allowed to be successful in Ukraine in the long term.

n

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Wallace accepted that there had been “a few disagreements about the levels of sanctions” to be imposed on Russia amongst the international community, but overall it was “united against what Putin is doing”, he said.

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    n

  • He said conditions could be tightened for Russians wanting to get visas to visit the UK, but he said he was not convinced an “outright ban” on Russians visiting the UK would be right.

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    n

  • He said some countries were wrong not to respond when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. “The problem has been all the way back to 2014, [when] Russia invaded Crimea, illegally annexed it, after which it was allowed in some nations to stick with it as if nothing had actually modified,” he stated.

  • n

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in ‘very fragile place’ in conflict with Ukraine, says defence secretary Ben Wallace”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Wed 24 Aug 2022 16.05 BST”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First revealed on Wed 24 Aug 2022 09.04 BST”},{“id”:”6305dc5d8f082fadccfc8231″,”parts”:[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

And here is a full summary of the main lines from Rishi Sunak’s interview with the Today programme.

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    n

  • Sunak refused to commit to voting for Liz Truss’s emergency budget if she becomes prime minister. See 9.04am.

  • n

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    n

  • He defended his decision not to back plans to freeze the energy price cap at the current level – saying this would require too much government borrowing. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are proposing an energy price cap freeze, and many energy companies also want to see the energy price cap frozen at the current level, alongside a mechanism being put in place to compensate them for the income they would lose. Sunak said that the energy companies had not spoken to him directly about their plan. (He seemed to be referring to the Scottish Power proposal for a £100bn rescue plan.) But he said this would involve too much borrowing. He said:

  • n

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n

This is a challenge that is going to be with us for some time. And in that context, we need to make sure that what we’re doing is not only affordable, but also isn’t going to make inflation worse.

n

And at a time when we’re already borrowing an enormous amount of money, I think embarking on policies and programmes that add not just tens of billions, but tens and tens and tens and tens of billions of pounds on a permanent basis to our borrowing are risky, and that’s actually been a debate that we’ve had in this leadership race now.

n

I think that is a gamble with people’s savings, with their pensions, with mortgage rates, in making inflation become more embedded, and that won’t help anybody if that happens, because inflation makes everybody poor. It’s pernicious.

n

So, yes, I am nervous and sceptical about plans that are complacent about that risk.

n

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    n

  • He said plans that implied government did not need to make difficult choices were generally “too good to be true”. He made this point when he was specifically talking about the proposals to freeze the energy price cap, but he also made it clear that he thought some of Liz Truss’s plans came into this category. See 9.04am.

  • n

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    n

  • He said that, in stressing the need for government to take difficult choices, he was following the lead set by Margaret Thatcher. He mentioned her when asked to name the conservative thinker who had influence him most. He said that people who had worked with her endorsed his approach to tackling inflation, not Truss’s. He went on:

  • n

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n

One thing I admire and respect about [Thatcher] … is that she was ready not only to say the straightforward issues that folks can have wished to listen to, she stated the issues which will have been troublesome to listen to however have been proper for the nation, and had the braveness of her convictions. And that’s a regular that I maintain myself to.

n

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    n

  • He refused to simply accept that Labour’s plan to freeze the power value cap for the winter was absolutely costed. He stated the proposal had been “wildly criticised for [the] credibility of that costing”. Sunak was referring particularly to Labour’s declare that £7bn to pay for the plan would come from decrease authorities debt curiosity funds.

  • n

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    n

  • He implied that he was in favour of the federal government telling individuals to make use of much less power this winter. Requested if the federal government ought to be doing this, as different governments are in Europe, Sunak replied:

  • n

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n

We’ve got to take a look at all choices obtainable for us, and there are issues that the builders and plumbing affiliation have talked about which I assumed have been fairly smart, about altering circulate charges on boilers, which I didn’t find out about which can assist cut back power utilization with out individuals seeing any actual impression on how they devour power. So we ought to be taking a look at all of these items.

n

Additionally I might embark on a programme of large power effectivity upgrades in individuals’s houses.

n

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Rajan requested this query as a result of the present authorities, and the Truss marketing campaign, are resisting the concept that individuals ought to be requested to reduce their power use. This place has been fiercely criticised, for instance by the FT columnist Sarah Connor.

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Good morning. Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor who will only beat Liz Truss in the Tory leadership contest if multiple polls turn out to be completely wrong, has been giving an interview to the Today programme this morning. He has been accepting plenty of interviews recently, which may partly be related to the fact that he is a confident media peformer, but probably says more about the fact that, as the underdog in the contest, he has nothing to lose. In contrast, Truss has repeatedly refused invitations to setpiece media interviews.

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Speaking to Amol Rajan, the Today presenter, Sunak refused to commit to voting for Truss’s proposed emergency budget in September if she wins. He has already indicated that he would not take a job in her cabinet because he disagrees so strongly with her plan to reverse the national insurance increase that he implemented as chancellor. (He sees it as an unfunded tax cut that would push up inflation and disproportionately benefit the rich.) At the Tory hustings last night in Birmingham Sunak dodged a question about whether he would vote for Truss’s plan if she won. Rajan tried again, and he told Sunak people would like to know whether he would vote against Truss’s planned emergency budget. Again, Sunak would not give an answer. He replied:

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n

I’m not going to engage in these things partly because acting like this race is not over isn’t right.

n

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But elsewhere in the interview he restated his claim that Truss’s tax proposals were essentially implausible. He said:

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n

Governing is hard. Governing involves choices, it involves difficult trade offs.

n

Plans, whether they come from my opponent, or indeed the energy companies or anyone else, who seem to suggest that you can have absolutely everything you want, and you don’t have to make a difficult choice – that you can have lots of tax cuts, you can help people with the cost of living, borrowing doesn’t matter, inflation will take care of itself – if that all sounds a bit too good to be true, I think most people listening will think most things, when they do sound too good to be true, they probably are.

n

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I will post more from the interview shortly. My colleague Gemma McSherry covered the hustings in Birmingham on the blog last night. You can read her coverage here.

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Otherwise it looks relatively quiet today, but here are three things in the diary.

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9.30am: The ONS publishs a report on the impact of sanctions on UK trade with Russia.

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10am: Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, joined Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, in Glasgow at an event to discuss Labour palns to empower commmunities.

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12pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, takes part in an “In Conversation” at the Edinburgh fringe.

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I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions, and if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

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If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

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Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com

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Johnson pays tribute to ‘incomparable will of Ukrainians to withstand’ at information convention in Kyiv

Boris Johnson advised a information convention in Kyiv that Vladimir Putin had been “insane” to invade Ukraine as he praised the nation’s resistance.

If we’re paying in our power payments for the evils of Vladimir Putin, the individuals of Ukraine are paying of their blood.

As PA Media reviews, Johnson stated “like one among these indomitable Ukrainian boxers” the nation “got here off the ropes and hit him with an uppercut that despatched Putin’s armies reeling from Kyiv and a hook to drive him from Kharkiv”. He added:

Out of the ashes of your cities and cities, out of the monstrous scares which can be being left by Putin’s missiles, one thing lovely is blooming and it’s a flower that the complete world can see and admire, and that’s the incomparable will of the Ukrainians to withstand.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy (right) with Boris Johnson at a news conference in Kyiv.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy (proper) with Boris Johnson at a information convention in Kyiv.
{Photograph}: Andrew Kravchenko/AP

In keeping with the polling agency Ipsos UK, three-quarters of all voters, and two-thirds of people that voted Conservative in 2019, suppose the privileges committee inquiry into whether or not Boris Johnson misled MPs about Partygate is justified. That is from Kelly Beaver, the corporate’s chief government.

NEW: An amazing majority of the general public inform us they suppose the continuing Commons privileges committee investigation into Boris Johnson's conduct round #partygate is justified. @IpsosUK pic.twitter.com/xYrB8K6GJt

— Kelly Beaver MBE (@KellyIpsosUK) August 24, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/KellyIpsosUK/standing/1562422730502258688″,”id”:”1562422730502258688″,”hasMedia”:false,”position”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”supply”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”b8bb4937-e7b6-41c6-ac55-19a84789759c”}}”/>

That is unhealthy information for the Mail newspapers which have been working information articles and opinion items clearly designed to kill the inquiry. The Mail group remains to be very supportive of Johnson and on the weekend it carried a information story based mostly on a briefing circulating amongst MPs arguing, in impact, that it could be unhealthy for MPs to insist that ministers within the Commons inform them the reality. There was additionally an opinion piece saying the inquiry was akin to a present trial from Stalin’s Russia – written by somebody who had clearly forgotten what truly occurred to the victims of Stalin’s present trials.

Pure Privileges Panic at Mail: Three extra pages of assault on the Commons Committee – together with an explainer on what Kafkaesque means – Johnson clearly in extreme hassle right here… Dacre is combating like hell. pic.twitter.com/fyTXGV8LmJ

— David Yelland (@davidyelland) August 20, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/davidyelland/standing/1561120453011415040″,”id”:”1561120453011415040″,”hasMedia”:false,”position”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”supply”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”b8158f58-7381-46d2-9431-a261e61acf4e”}}”>

Pure Privileges Panic at Mail: Three extra pages of assault on the Commons Committee – together with an explainer on what Kafkaesque means – Johnson clearly in extreme hassle right here… Dacre is combating like hell. pic.twitter.com/fyTXGV8LmJ

— David Yelland (@davidyelland) August 20, 2022

Boris Johnson has been doing a walkabout in Kyiv with President Zelenskiy.

The Kyiv Unbiased has some photos.

U.Okay. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was noticed strolling in central Kyiv together with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Aug. 24.

Johnson's go to wasn't introduced.

Ukraine marks thirty first Independence Day and precisely six months of Russia's all-out conflict on Aug. 24.

📷Kostyantyn Chernichkin pic.twitter.com/ksLJJqvNmT

— The Kyiv Unbiased (@KyivIndependent) August 24, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/KyivIndependent/standing/1562434563628240898″,”id”:”1562434563628240898″,”hasMedia”:false,”position”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”supply”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”9edef5d7-f441-4cbc-b2c6-41c3add7b13e”}}”>

U.Okay. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was noticed strolling in central Kyiv together with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Aug. 24.

Johnson’s go to wasn’t introduced.

Ukraine marks thirty first Independence Day and precisely six months of Russia’s all-out conflict on Aug. 24.

📷Kostyantyn Chernichkin pic.twitter.com/ksLJJqvNmT

— The Kyiv Unbiased (@KyivIndependent) August 24, 2022

And Visegrád 24 has some video footage.

BREAKING:

British PM Boris Johnson has arrived to Kyiv on a shock go to to have a good time Ukraine’s Independence Day along with Zelensky.

Appears to be like just like the Russians could have to cancel any plans of strikes on authorities buildings right now. pic.twitter.com/5XoY0bcQP5

— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) August 24, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/visegrad24/standing/1562435616323018754″,”id”:”1562435616323018754″,”hasMedia”:false,”position”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”supply”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”6e5d1fb4-3661-44ac-b60f-b80b07db33cc”}}”>

BREAKING:

British PM Boris Johnson has arrived to Kyiv on a shock go to to have a good time Ukraine’s Independence Day along with Zelensky.

Appears to be like just like the Russians could have to cancel any plans of strikes on authorities buildings right now. pic.twitter.com/5XoY0bcQP5

— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) August 24, 2022

UK to supply Ukraine with £54m package deal of drones and missiles

Boris Johnson has introduced an extra package deal of navy assist for Ukraine on his go to. The UK is contributing a £54m package deal of drones and “loitering munitions”, missiles that keep airborne till they determine a goal to assault.

In its information launch concerning the package deal, No 10 stated:

This package deal of unmanned air programs can be a step up within the Ukrainian’s present functionality, bettering their lengthy vary surveillance and defensive concentrating on means.

It consists of 850 hand-launched Black Hornet micro-drones, that are particularly designed to be used in cities and villages, and are deployed to detect approaching enemy forces.

Army personnel might be educated to fly the helicopter drones, that are smaller than a cellular cellphone, in underneath 20 minutes. Every drone feeds again dwell video and nonetheless photographs to enable forces on the bottom to defend city areas safely.

In an announcement Johnson stated:

At present’s package deal of assist will give the courageous and resilient Ukrainian armed forces one other increase in functionality, permitting them to proceed to thrust back Russian forces and struggle for his or her freedom.

What occurs in Ukraine issues to us all, which is why I’m right here right now to ship the message that the UK is with you and can be with you for the times and months forward, and you may and can win.

That is Johnson’s third go to to Kyiv because the Russian invasion in February. To mark his assist for Ukraine, Johnson was awarded the order of liberty, the nation’s highest award for overseas nationals.

Johnson visits to Kyiv to verify UK backing for Ukraine

Boris Johnson has revealed that he’s in Kyiv for what’s going to virtually definitely be his ultimate assembly as PM with Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president.

What occurs in Ukraine issues to us all.

That’s the reason I’m in Kyiv right now.

That’s the reason the UK will proceed to face with our Ukrainian associates.

I imagine Ukraine can and can win this conflict. pic.twitter.com/FIovnqJGTS

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 24, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/BorisJohnson/standing/1562432251203182593″,”id”:”1562432251203182593″,”hasMedia”:false,”position”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”supply”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”f1ed3279-bf91-446c-b6d9-db93e65a0415″}}”>

What occurs in Ukraine issues to us all.

That’s the reason I’m in Kyiv right now.

That’s the reason the UK will proceed to face with our Ukrainian associates.

I imagine Ukraine can and can win this conflict. pic.twitter.com/FIovnqJGTS

— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 24, 2022

Levelling up invoice doesn’t embody funding wanted to make levelling up occur, say MPs

Though the Home of Commons is just not sitting over the summer season, MPs who chair choose committees are nonetheless doing a little work and a few of them have been sending out letters. Clive Betts, the Labour MP who chairs the levelling up committee, says that when Greg Clark changed Michael Gove as levelling up secretary in July, he requested Betts to inform him over the summer season what the committee considered the levelling up and regeneration invoice.

Not a lot appears to be the reply. At present Betts has launched the letter he has despatched to Clark on behalf of his committee giving an evaluation of the invoice and right here is the important thing paragraph.

It’s the committee’s view that the foremost software to attain levelling up can be by means of applicable funding to these areas that want it most. This funding will help make progress on the levelling up missions associated to public transport and native connectivity; remodeling digital connectivity; bettering training outcomes; growing the variety of adults who full top quality expertise coaching; and growing wholesome life expectancy. Not one of the provisions within the invoice will instantly contribute to creating progress in direction of reaching these missions – aside from setting them. There may be additionally no funding for levelling up related to the invoice.

Like all choose committees, this one has a slender Conservative majority.

And in an announcement to journalists Betts stated:

In its present type, the invoice does little to reassure that levelling up will show to be greater than only a slogan and that we’ll have significant change in native communities throughout the nation. In key areas, it’s unclear how the federal government intends to drive change and so they are but to decide to the spending that’s essential to stage up the nation.

Our inquiry has targeted on the planning provisions within the invoice, which might be described as loosely-connected proposals to tinker with the present system, hopefully reaching some enchancment. It has been troublesome to conduct scrutiny as a consequence of loads of the element of the provisions having not but been revealed.

The Institute for Fiscal Research thinktank has revealed its personal evaluation of the importance of right now’s Authorities Expenditure and Income Scotland (GERS) report for 2021-22. (See 12.02pm.) It says the underlying public funds are bettering in Scotland as a result of of oil and gasoline revenues, however that long-term challenges stay.

Summarising the IFS evaluation, David Phillips, an affiliate director on the thinktank, says:

At present’s GERS figures are a story of two tales. The headline numbers present Scotland’s deficit falling by extra relative to GDP than the UK as a complete, pushed by a rebound in oil and gasoline revenues, and a restoration in GDP from an even bigger decline through the peak of the pandemic. Nonetheless, digging deeper reveals that onshore revenues grew much less shortly than the UK as a complete: they at the moment are £800 decrease per particular person, in comparison with round £500 decrease over the earlier 5 years, and broadly just like the UK common within the early 2010s. Authorities spending additionally fell by much less in Scotland final 12 months than within the UK as a complete.

Figures for the present monetary 12 months, 2022-23, will come simply earlier than the date the Scottish authorities hopes to carry a referendum on independence. That timing could possibly be fortuitous for the ‘sure’ camp as additional will increase in oil and gasoline costs, along with the windfall tax on the income of oil and gasoline producers, imply Scotland’s headline total deficit could possibly be at an analogous and even decrease stage than the UK as a complete for the primary time in over 10 years.

However, the long-term decline in North Sea output implies that even when these larger costs are sustained, at greatest they might purchase the federal government of an impartial Scotland extra time to increase onshore financial progress and revenues. With out this, an impartial Scotland would nonetheless doubtless face larger tax rises or spending cuts within the a long time forward.

Starmer insists Labour simply as dedicated to supporting Ukraine as authorities, saying UK ‘united’ on this

Keir Starmer has insisted that Labour social gathering is simply as dedicated to supporting Ukraine as the federal government. On a go to to Salisbury Plain, the place he met British and Ukrainian troopers, he advised journalists that Britain was united on this situation. He stated:

Six months after the beginning of the battle in Ukraine, I’ve been right here in Salisbury Plain watching Ukrainian troops being educated by British troops with dwell rounds, simulating the scenario they’ll be dealing with.

That’s given me the chance to say and to reiterate Labour’s dedication and assist for the Ukrainian individuals, and our unshakeable assist for Nato and our allies.

I’ve been so impressed with the coaching I’ve seen right here, that the international status of British forces is of grit, of sophistication and that form of steely dedication and braveness on the battlefield.

My mission, my message to the Ukrainian individuals, to our troops, our Nato allies, is that on the situation of defending Ukraine in opposition to Russian aggression, we stand united. We is not going to be divided politically in the UK on this and I’ve been in a position to ship that message first-hand amongst this very, very spectacular coaching.

Keir Starmer meeting Ukrainian and British soldiers on Salisbury Plain this morning.
Keir Starmer assembly Ukrainian and British troopers on Salisbury Plain this morning. {Photograph}: Stefan Rousseau/PA

If Liz Truss turns into prime minister, she might delay the following election till early 2025, in response to the FT’s Sebastian Payne. In a protracted function about her plans for presidency he writes:

Though many senior Tories assume that the following election can be in spring or autumn 2024, Truss might wait till January 2025, the final attainable date one might be held. ‘Don’t rule out her ready so long as attainable if the financial cycle will profit our probabilities,’ one ally stated. ‘There may be so much to do and little or no time left.’

The final election was held on 12 December 2019. It is mostly assumed {that a} basic election must be held not less than each 5 years, however the regulation simply says a parliament can solely final 5 years and so in apply a basic election can happen round 5 years and a month or so after the final one.

John Main was the final prime minister who delayed a basic election till the final second, holding the 1997 one 5 years and three weeks after the earlier one. It didn’t cease him being crushed by a landslide. However in 1992 he additionally delayed the election till virtually the final attainable date, and on that event he pulled off a shock victory. In 2010 Gordon Brown held an election precisely 5 years after the earlier one and he misplaced.

In keeping with Payne, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit alternatives minister, will get a serious job in Truss’s group – however not the levelling up portfolio, as some current reviews instructed.

People photographing Larry the cat in Downing Street this morning. He is posting in front of the sunflower arch up for Ukraine’s independence day. See 10.18am.
Individuals photographing Larry the cat in Downing Road this morning. He’s posting in entrance of the sunflower arch up for Ukraine’s independence day. See 10.18am. {Photograph}: Susannah Eire/AFP/Getty Pictures

Unionists declare newest public spending figures for Scotland present Scots get ‘union dividend’ of £2,184 per particular person

The Scottish authorities has this morning revealed the Authorities Expenditure and Income Scotland (GERS) report for 2021-22. It’s produced independently by authorities statisticians and it units out how a lot authorities income is raised in Scotland, and the way a lot authorities spending is directed at Scotland. Its publication yearly gives new proof to be used in the talk about whether or not Scotland might afford to be impartial.

There may be a abstract of the findings right here, and the complete report is right here.

In its tackle the figures, the SNP-led Scottish authorities says: “Scotland’s internet fiscal stability has improved quickly since final 12 months, reflecting the financial restoration from the Covid-19 pandemic and the phasing out of pandemic well being restrictions and assist schemes.”

However Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary within the Conservative UK authorities, stated the report confirmed how “individuals and their households [in Scotland] profit massively from being a part of a robust, resilient UK”.

In his formal response to the report Jack stated it confirmed that public spending in Scotland per capita was £1,963 above the UK common in 2021-22, however that income per capita was £221 under the UK common. He stated this meant the “union dividend” (the worth of larger spending, making allowance for decrease income) was akin to £2,184 for everyone.

Different unionist politicians have made the identical argument. Daniel Johnson MSP, the finance spokesperson for Scottish Labour, stated the report confirmed that “independence would require tax will increase or spending cuts at a time when these actions would shatter households as their payments spiral”.

The report confirms that Scotland’s internet fiscal stability is worse than the UK’s. Right here is the important thing chart. Jacks says it reveals “Scotland’s deficit” standing at £23.7bn.

Scotland and UK’s net fiscal balance
Scotland and UK’s internet fiscal stability {Photograph}: GERS

The Fraser of Allander Institute, an financial thinktank based mostly on the College of Strathclyde, has produced a helpful briefing on what the GERS figures imply. Right here is an extract.

GERS takes the present constitutional settlement as given. If the very goal of independence is to take totally different selections concerning the kind of financial system and society that we dwell in, then it’s attainable {that a} set of accounts based mostly upon the world right now might look totally different, over the long run, in an impartial Scotland.

That stated, GERS does present an correct image of the place Scotland is in 2022. In doing so it units the place to begin for a dialogue concerning the fast selections, alternatives and challenges that should be addressed by these advocating new fiscal preparations. And right here the problem is stark, with a doubtless deficit far in extra of the UK as a complete, different comparable nations or that which is deemed to be sustainable within the long-term. It is just not sufficient to say ‘every part can be tremendous’ or ‘have a look at this nation, they will run a wise fiscal stability so why can’t Scotland?’. Concrete proposals and concepts are wanted.

Truss says as PM she would declassify extra UK intelligence to show what Russia is doing to undermine west

Liz Truss, the overseas secretary and frontrunner within the Tory management contest, has stated that if she turns into prime minister, she’s going to declassify extra UK intelligence to show what Russia is doing to undermine the west. In an article for the Every day Telegraph she says:

When malign actors are able to peddle falsehoods, our responsibility is to make sure the world hears the reality. That’s the reason we arrange the Authorities Data Cell to counter the Kremlin’s false narratives. We’ll proceed to step up our work to counter the efforts of Russia and different authoritarian regimes to make use of disinformation to sow confusion and undermine international stability, drawing on the talents and instruments at our disposal alongside our worldwide companions.

I’ll go additional as prime minister by doing every part attainable – together with declassifying extra intelligence – to show Putin’s playbook to the world. My authorities will use intelligence strategically to disclose the Kremlin’s makes an attempt to undermine and destabilise freedom-loving democracies. The place there are lies, they can be uncovered, the place there may be barbarism, we’ll name it out. I’ll take the identical powerful method to counter malign exercise from doubtlessly hostile states and others who threaten international safety.

She additionally says that as PM she’s going to “do every part I can to make sure the flame of freedom in Ukraine continues to burn brilliant”.

Liz Truss at the Tory hustings in Birmingham last night.
Liz Truss on the Tory hustings in Birmingham final evening. {Photograph}: Rui Vieira/AP

Shielding Britain’s households from power disaster ‘will price greater than £100bn’

The power trade’s favoured plan to defend Britain’s households from the hovering price of power will price greater than £100bn over two years, Keith Anderson, chief government of ScottishPower, has confirmed. My colleague Joanna Partridge has the story.

Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower, arriving at Bute House in Edinburgh yesterday for a meeting chaired by Nicola Sturgeon.
Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower, arriving at Bute Home in Edinburgh yesterday for a gathering chaired by Nicola Sturgeon. {Photograph}: Lesley Martin/PA

Russia in ‘very fragile place’ in conflict with Ukraine, says defence secretary Ben Wallace

At present is Ukraine’s independence day. Additionally it is the six-month anniversary of the Russian invasion. Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, gave an interview to the At present programme to mark the event, and listed here are the foremost factors he made.

I spoke to my intelligence chiefs this morning earlier than approaching; Russia’s advance might be measured in metres per week, not miles.

It’s grinding in small components of the nation in an try to advance – utterly reverse of the three-days particular operation that it touted in the beginning of this, six months in the past.

We settle for observations of Russian losses to be – should you mix deaths, accidents, desertions – over 80,000 of their armed forces. That’s 80,000 in six months in comparison with 15,000 they misplaced in a decade in Afghanistan.

I believe we’re able the place Russia is in a really fragile place.

  • He stated it was attainable for Ukraine to retake territory from Russia. Requested if this was life like, he replied:

I believe Ukraine is getting itself into that place. Before everything, Ukraine already has had all through this the ethical element, as we name it in defence, and should you have a look at the morale of the Ukrainian forces, it’s leagues forward of the Russian morale, which is poorly-trained troops and so forth.

I don’t suppose that there’s been any wavering, I believe that’s what Putin would love the world to do. It’s what he would fantasise, we’d all form of return to our solar loungers.

The easy actuality is we see this as a direct menace not solely to Ukraine, however to our values, and the world remains to be fairly strong and decided.

Now, after all, as we see, he’ll use gasoline as a weapon. I believe we noticed yesterday a discount in components of the gasoline pipeline into Europe, intentionally to drive up costs. However, after all, that’s the reason he should not be allowed to achieve success in Ukraine in the long run.

Wallace accepted that there had been “a couple of disagreements concerning the ranges of sanctions” to be imposed on Russia amongst the worldwide group, however total it was “united in opposition to what Putin is doing”, he stated.

  • He stated some nations have been incorrect not to reply when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. “The drawback has been all the best way again to 2014, [when] Russia invaded Crimea, illegally annexed it, after which it was allowed in some nations to stick with it as if nothing had actually modified,” he stated.

Downing Street decorated with a sunflower arch this morning. The sunflower is Ukraine’s national flower, and the tribute is up to mark Ukraine’s independence day.
Downing Road adorned with a sunflower arch this morning. The sunflower is Ukraine’s nationwide flower, and the tribute is as much as mark Ukraine’s independence day. {Photograph}: Tayfun Salcı/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

The rightwing Conservative MP John Redwood has welcomed Liz Truss’s refusal to decide to appointing a brand new ethics adviser for No 10 if she turns into prime minister.

Excellent news that Liz Truss doesn’t need to appoint an Ethics Adviser. She’s going to decide proper and incorrect with the complete nation watching. There can be different posts she will do with out in authorities.

— John Redwood (@johnredwood) August 24, 2022

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Excellent news that Liz Truss doesn’t need to appoint an Ethics Adviser. She’s going to decide proper and incorrect with the complete nation watching. There can be different posts she will do with out in authorities.

— John Redwood (@johnredwood) August 24, 2022

Redwood was Welsh secretary underneath John Main, however he has not served in authorities since 1995 and he final sat on the Conservative frontbench in 2005. However he has been tipped for a ministerial job if Truss turns into PM.

Gavin Barwell, who was chief of employees for Theresa Could when she was PM, says that, even when Truss can inform the distinction between proper and incorrect herself, she’s going to discover it helpful having an impartial ethics adviser.

She’s going to uncover that when you’ve gotten to sack one among your ministers – probably a detailed pal – it is definitely useful to a first-rate minister to have an impartial determine affirm that they’ve damaged the ministerial code, somewhat than that having to be your judgement alone https://t.co/NR43RuoMLV

— Gavin Barwell (@GavinBarwell) August 24, 2022

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She’s going to uncover that when you’ve gotten to sack one among your ministers – probably a detailed pal – it is definitely useful to a first-rate minister to have an impartial determine affirm that they’ve damaged the ministerial code, somewhat than that having to be your judgement alone https://t.co/NR43RuoMLV

— Gavin Barwell (@GavinBarwell) August 24, 2022

Sunak says freezing power value cap would require an excessive amount of authorities borrowing

And here’s a full abstract of the foremost strains from Rishi Sunak’s interview with the At present programme.

  • He defended his resolution to not again plans to freeze the power value cap at the present stage – saying this may require an excessive amount of authorities borrowing. Labour and the Liberal Democrats are proposing an power value cap freeze, and lots of power corporations additionally need to see the power value cap frozen at the present stage, alongside a mechanism being put in place to compensate them for the revenue they might lose. Sunak stated that the power corporations had not spoken to him instantly about their plan. (He gave the impression to be referring to the Scottish Energy proposal for a £100bn rescue plan.) However he stated this may contain an excessive amount of borrowing. He stated:

It is a problem that’s going to be with us for a while. And in that context, we’d like to be certain that that what we’re doing is just not solely reasonably priced, but additionally isn’t going to make inflation worse.

And at a time once we’re already borrowing an unlimited sum of money, I believe embarking on insurance policies and programmes that add not only tens of billions, however tens and tens and tens and tens of billions of kilos on a everlasting foundation to our borrowing are dangerous, and that’s truly been a debate that we’ve had on this management race now.

I believe that’s a big gamble with individuals’s financial savings, with their pensions, with mortgage charges, in making inflation turn out to be extra embedded, and that gained’t assist anyone if that occurs, as a result of inflation makes all people poor. It’s pernicious.

So, sure, I’m nervous and sceptical about plans which can be complacent about that threat.

  • He stated plans that implied authorities didn’t must make troublesome selections have been usually “too good to be true”. He made this level when he was particularly speaking concerning the proposals to freeze the power value cap, however he additionally made it clear that he thought a few of Liz Truss’s plans got here into this class. See 9.04am.

  • He stated that, in stressing the necessity for presidency to take troublesome selections, he was following the lead set by Margaret Thatcher. He talked about her when requested to title the conservative thinker who had affect him most. He stated that folks who had labored together with her endorsed his method to tackling inflation, not Truss’s. He went on:

One factor I love and respect about [Thatcher] … is that she was ready not only to say the straightforward issues that folks can have wished to listen to, she stated the issues which will have been troublesome to listen to however have been proper for the nation, and had the braveness of her convictions. And that’s a regular that I maintain myself to.

  • He refused to simply accept that Labour’s plan to freeze the power value cap for the winter was absolutely costed. He stated the proposal had been “wildly criticised for [the] credibility of that costing”. Sunak was referring particularly to Labour’s declare that £7bn to pay for the plan would come from decrease authorities debt curiosity funds.

  • He implied that he was in favour of the federal government telling individuals to make use of much less power this winter. Requested if the federal government ought to be doing this, as different governments are in Europe, Sunak replied:

We’ve got to take a look at all choices obtainable for us, and there are issues that the builders and plumbing affiliation have talked about which I assumed have been fairly smart, about altering circulate charges on boilers, which I didn’t find out about which can assist cut back power utilization with out individuals seeing any actual impression on how they devour power. So we ought to be taking a look at all of these items.

Additionally I might embark on a programme of large power effectivity upgrades in individuals’s houses.

Rajan requested this query as a result of the present authorities, and the Truss marketing campaign, are resisting the concept that individuals ought to be requested to reduce their power use. This place has been fiercely criticised, for instance by the FT columnist Sarah Connor.

Why on earth is the federal government saying this? We DO must in the reduction of our power utilization, after all we do. pic.twitter.com/FztF5upPJj

— Sarah O'Connor (@sarahoconnor_) August 23, 2022

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One thing you employ has turn out to be wildly costly & is ready to turn out to be extra so, however don't strive to determine how you can use much less of it, no matter you do

— Sarah O'Connor (@sarahoconnor_) August 23, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/sarahoconnor_/standing/1562099883712077824″,”id”:”1562099883712077824″,”hasMedia”:false,”position”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”supply”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”03b856b8-46a9-4391-9ee8-551b4bf11799″}}”>

One thing you employ has turn out to be wildly costly & is ready to turn out to be extra so, however do not strive to determine how you can use much less of it, no matter you do

— Sarah O’Connor (@sarahoconnor_) August 23, 2022

Rishi Sunak refuses to decide to voting for Truss’s emergency funds if she wins Tory management

Good morning. Rishi Sunak, the previous chancellor who will solely beat Liz Truss within the Tory management contest if a number of polls become utterly incorrect, has been giving an interview to the At present programme this morning. He has been accepting a lot of interviews not too long ago, which can partly be associated to the undeniable fact that he’s a assured media peformer, however in all probability says extra concerning the undeniable fact that, because the underdog in the competition, he has nothing to lose. In distinction, Truss has repeatedly refused invites to setpiece media interviews.

Talking to Amol Rajan, the At present presenter, Sunak refused to decide to voting for Truss’s proposed emergency funds in September if she wins. He has already indicated that he wouldn’t take a job in her cupboard as a result of he disagrees so strongly together with her plan to reverse the nationwide insurance coverage improve that he applied as chancellor. (He sees it as an unfunded tax reduce that will push up inflation and disproportionately profit the wealthy.) On the Tory hustings final evening in Birmingham Sunak dodged an issue about whether or not he would vote for Truss’s plan if she gained. Rajan tried once more, and he advised Sunak individuals would really like to know whether or not he would vote in opposition to Truss’s deliberate emergency funds. Once more, Sunak wouldn’t give a solution. He replied:

I’m not going to have interaction in these items partly as a result of appearing like this race is just not over isn’t proper.

However elsewhere within the interview he restated his declare that Truss’s tax proposals have been basically implausible. He stated:

Governing is laborious. Governing includes selections, it includes troublesome commerce offs.

Plans, whether or not they come from my opponent, or certainly the power corporations or anybody else, who appear to recommend that you would be able to have completely every part you would like, and also you don’t need to make a troublesome alternative – that you would be able to have a number of tax cuts, you can assist individuals with the fee of residing, borrowing doesn’t matter, inflation will deal with itself – if that every one sounds a bit too good to be true, I believe most individuals listening will suppose most issues, once they do sound too good to be true, they in all probability are.

I’ll submit extra from the interview shortly. My colleague Gemma McSherry lined the hustings in Birmingham on the weblog final evening. You may learn her protection right here.

In any other case it appears to be like comparatively quiet right now, however listed here are three issues within the diary.

9.30am: The ONS publishs a report on the impression of sanctions on UK commerce with Russia.

10am: Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Higher Manchester, joined Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour chief, in Glasgow at an occasion to talk about Labour palns to empower commmunities.

12pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, takes half in an “In Dialog” on the Edinburgh fringe.

I strive to watch the feedback under the road (BTL) nevertheless it is inconceivable to learn all of them. If you’ve gotten a direct query, do embody “Andrew” in it someplace and I’m extra doubtless to seek out it. I do strive to reply questions, and in the event that they are of basic curiosity, I’ll submit the query and reply above the road (ATL), though I can’t promise to do that for everybody.

If you desire to entice my consideration shortly, it’s in all probability higher to make use of Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you may e mail me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com


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