Tag Archives: rishi sunak

Wera Hobhouse MP writes: The Conservatives are taking a major risk with people’s lives

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The UK’s presidency of COP26 should have been a turning point for Government action. Instead there are targets, with no sufficient plans in place to actually meet them. Therese Coffey noted that “the big COPs tend to be every five years,” which aligns well with her colleague Sunak’s lacklustre attitude toward this year’s conference.

The day after leaving COP27, where he said we need to ‘move further and faster’ toward Net Zero, the Prime Minister is set to announce that he has secured a major deal with the US to import 10 billion cubic metres of fracked shale gas.

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++Gavin Williamson resigns from the cabinet

The Guardian reports:

Gavin Williamson dramatically quit Rishi Sunak’s cabinet on Tuesday night after the Guardian revealed claims that he told a senior civil servant they should “slit your throat” while he was defence secretary.

The Cabinet Office minister stepped down after the former Whitehall aide put in a formal complaint to parliament’s Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS), piling more pressure on Sunak over his decision to reappoint his ally.

Responding to the news, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:

This should be the third and final time Gavin Williamson is forced out of the Cabinet.

Rishi Sunak has serious questions

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Lib Dems should call out the emperor for having no clothes

At his first PMQs Sunak twice attempted to wrong-foot Sir Keir Starmer by accusing him of being insufficiently supportive of the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU.

Unlike Mrs May and Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak was a Brexiter from the start. His performance at PMQs indicated that he remains a Leaver and is bullishly unrepentant. I think this provides the Liberal Democrat parliamentary team with a wonderful line of attack.

We now have a shedload of evidence that Brexit is having an adverse impact in all sorts of areas. Only last week the Financial Times issued an excellent video that catalogued the damage that Brexit is causing.

Additionally, we may note that that the YouGov polling tracker of how voters view Brexit showed on 19 October 54% as “wrong to leave” and only 34% as “right”. Dissatisfaction with Brexit has become palpable.

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Reaction to Sunak as PM


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Rishi Sunak will (not) be kissing the King’s hand this morning.

Here’s some of the Lib Dem reaction to Sunak’s elevation:

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24 October 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems table Bill calling for general election by December
  • Sunak: Another out of touch Conservative PM with no plan
  • Sunak statement: Keeping public in the dark while celebrating behind closed doors
  • First Minister Must Not Contribute to the Whitewashing of Qatar

Lib Dems table Bill calling for general election by December

The Liberal Democrats have tabled a Bill in Parliament today calling for an early general election by 1st December 2022.

The Bill will be tabled in Parliament today (Monday 24th October) and will be given its First Reading on Wednesday after Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Liberal Democrats are urging Conservative MPs to back the …

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Sunak and Truss on Grammar Schools

Yesterday Rishi Sunak agreed that he wanted to bring back grammar schools. Earlier Liz Truss had said that she wanted to end the ban on new grammar schools.

I find this profoundly depressing.

No-one should talk about grammar schools in isolation from the rest of the education system. They are one aspect of a selective system which sees all children placed in either a selective grammar school or a non-selective school. Each new grammar school generates, by default, at least two other schools designed for those who don’t attend grammar schools.

Such a system is based on three questionable assumptions.

  1. Bright children are not served well by comprehensive schools. (Odd then that Liz Truss got into Oxford from a comprehensive, even though she now chooses to denigrate her old school.)
  2. A child’s educational potential is fixed and can be identified at the age of 11. (This has been thoroughly debunked.)
  3. Selective systems benefit all children and society at large. (Ah, where do we start?)

I was a product of the selective system – as indeed were many people who are still in positions of influence and power, who believe that Grammar Schools gave them a good start in life. At the time it didn’t feel right to me. I went to a Grammar School where I was expected to take O levels and A levels while some of my friends were channelled into Secondary Modern Schools where they were forced to leave at 15 without any qualifications. I knew that they were being educationally disadvantaged and that it would have an impact across the whole of their lives.

In 1965 just 20% of pupils gained 5 or more O Level passes in England and Wales – and they would have all been studying at Grammar Schools. By 1975 the majority of local authorities had moved to a comprehensive system, and improvements in attainments started appearing in the 1980s. Over the years the percentage of pupils gaining what is now known as a Level 2 qualification (5 or more GCSEs with A* to C grades, or equivalent) has risen steadily.  By 1988 it stood at 30%, but by 2015 it was 86% (although it has dropped back a few points since then).  So no-one can argue that outcomes were better under a selective system – it was comprehensive schools that overwhelmingly delivered these results.

And of course there is plenty of research which shows that selection favoured the middle classes. Indeed my feelings of unease solidified when I spent some months in my gap year working for a renowned team who were researching just that.

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Eugh! Lib Dems react to Sunak v Truss debate

The press release from the Lib Dem Press Office just after the BBC debate between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak last night was very short.

Lib Dems respond to BBC Tory leadership debate

Responding to this evening’s BBC Tory leadership debate, a Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: 

“Eurgh.”

ENDS

While it lacked in words, it summed up the feelings of much of the country, although I still think it was a bit generous.  Neither the participants nor the BBC covered themselves in glory.

Other Lib Dem reaction included:

You wouldn’t expect there to be much for liberals to be pleased about in a Conservative leadership debate, particularly as the participants are pandering to an increasingly right wing membership that would not be out of place in the Republican Party of Donald Trump. Ultra-nationalist, small state, minority bashing, this is what’s left after all the decent, one-nation types left in disgust in 2019.

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And then there were two …

So the contest will be between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

The votes for Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt were very close, with only 8 between them.

And now we know that the next Prime Minister is going to be chosen by 160,000+ people who worship the memory of Margaret Thatcher.

Ed Davey used his slot at Prime Minister’s Questions to demand a general election once the leadership election is over.

While Tim Farron commented on Johnson’s final remarks.

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Tory Leadership ballot – battles recommence

So we are down to six:

  • Kemi Badenoch
  • Suella Braverman
  • Penny Mordaunt
  • Rishi Sunak
  • Liz Truss
  • Tom Tugendhat

Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi did not make the cut.

What does this mean for Liberal Democrats? We are conflicted here – which contender would be best for the country and which would be better for our party’s electoral prospects?  Boris Johnson was a disaster for the country but a huge asset to us in recent by-elections, but that is, of course, is no reason to want him to stay in post.  I would certainly put integrity and decency in a Prime Minister at the top of my requirements, even though it would probably produce an upswing in Tory support.

Sadly, those on the more centrist or liberal wings of the Conservatives, that is, those we have most in common with, simply won’t find enough support these days in either the Parliamentary or wider party membership. Tom Tugendhat, a liberal Conservative, is likely to reach peak support in the next day or two.

Instead cultural warriors like Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman and Liz Truss represent the beating heart of the Conservative party – who will the MPs coalesce behind?

But what of Penny Mordaunt? – described as the dark horse of this contest. She is seen by some as a social liberal, but economic conservative, who seems to stand outside the normal rhetoric.

And then there’s Rishi Sunak, in a class of his own. Too many right wing connections, too much reckless spending during the pandemic (though matched by beneficial furlough schemes and, close to my heart, the Cultural Recovery Fund), too little understanding of the impact of his actions on the poorest members of our society, and too much money of his own – no wonder he appeals to the Tory faithful.

What’s your take on the race?

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Welcome to my day: 11 April 2022 – they seek him here, they seek him there, that damned elusive Rishi Sunak…

So, who leaked the information that Rishi Sunak had retained a US Green Card up until last year? Or that his wife, Akshata Murty, was non-domiciled for tax purposes? Was it a Labour supporter within Downing Street, as originally suggested (unlikely but not impossible, I guess), or someone from the Number 10 dirty tricks team?

However the information has reached the public domain, it’s certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons. Conservative Home readers have put him in their bottom three in terms of approval ratings (+7.4%) which, given that he was second in August, with a net approval rating of +74.5%, is either a sign of how fickle Conservatives are, or that he’s a fairweather Chancellor, capable of looking generous when there’s little choice to be anything else, but poor when hard political choices are necessary. Actually, I’d suggest that it’s both.

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Jardine bill to force Sunak to reveal family tax arrangements

The Liberal Democrats have drawn up draft legislation to force the Chancellor and any other government ministers to reveal whether they or their spouses claim non-domiciled status or have holdings in overseas tax havens.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Christine Jardine MP has drafted the Ministerial Tax Residency Status Bill and will present it to the House of Commons once Parliament has returned from Easter recess.

It was recently revealed that Rishi Sunak was listed as a beneficiary of tax haven trusts set up in the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands and held by his wife Akshata Murthy – just days after it emerged she was using her non-domiciled status to avoid paying taxes in the UK.

Ed Davey has written to the Cabinet Secretary and to Lord Geidt, the Prime Minister’s Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests, calling on them to investigate whether Sunak has broken the Ministerial Code.

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Spring Statement 2022: perspective of an unpaid carer

Yesterday, 23rd March 2022, Rishi Sunak delivered his Spring Statement 2022. It included a 5p cut in fuel duty and a rise in the National Insurance threshold by £3,000. But what caught my eye, on a personal note, was the lack of support for unpaid carers.

I have been looking after my grandfather now for nearly 2 years, in that time receiving £270 a month for my work. Now, I don’t begrudge looking after my grandfather as I want to keep him alive and well for as long as possible; my parents, grandparents and I have always lived in the same house together since I was born, so it’s always felt like having a second set of parents for me.

But something that I can’t ignore is the way this government has consistently ignored unpaid carers. Sunak has so far delivered 3 budgets as Chancellor, with no help or support given to us. The gap between the government’s perception of reality, and reality itself, is widening week-on-week. Amid a cost of living crisis, they think £270 a month is enough to cover rising bills – that’s let not forget, have increased due to their own lack of economic intervention – and then go as far as to expect us to be grateful?

Caring for my grandfather is a privilege, as I know I’m playing an important role in maintaining his health and well-being. But caring comes at a cost; adding to my already fragile mental health through 24/7 worrying, sacrificing 2 years of my life to pick up where this government has failed. And on that very point, this government assumes we only care for loved ones 5 hours a day, as we’re paid for 35 hours a week.

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Lib Dem reaction to the Spring Statement

In his budget today, Rishi Sunak cut fuel duty by 5p a litre, raised the threshold at which workers start paying national insurance by £3,000 a year and announced a future 1% reduction in income tax.

But the OBR said almost 3 million more people will be brought into paying income because the income tax threshold has been frozen. Ed Davey said:

This tax bombshell will send a shiver down the spine of families who are drowning in spiralling bills.

Rishi Sunak is trying to swindle the British public by burying the true cost of his disgraceful tax hikes. He has insulted millions of squeezed families across the country by thinking he can hide this in the small print. Rishi Sunak is following Boris Johnson’s lead by not being up front and honest with the country.

Tim Farron was scathing about the fuel duty cut:

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The pros and cons for Liberal Democrats of Boris Johnson remaining in office

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Why Johnson should stay — Irina von Weise

Just as tactical voting is an unfortunate, but indispensable result of our voting system, trade-offs between the shorter and longer term are often necessary. Here is the choice: putting up with a blustering, lying buffoon as PM for two more years, or the prospect of another seven (or more) years of Conservative governments.

Let’s not forget: Johnson is not the problem, he merely epitomises it. The problem is a Conservative party hardly recognisable to its own traditional voter base, one that ousted its internationalist, rule-based MPs and replaced them with a cohort of spineless, corrupt loyalists.

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An Alternative Budget – a budget for the poorest in society

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Rishi Sunak will be presenting his autumn budget on 27th October. Currently inflation is rising with wages increasing up to 7% in some sectors, quantitative easing is due to end at the end of the year. Rishi Sunak has stated he wants to reduce the deficit.

The economic outlook is not clear, but I think Rishi Sunak should assume that the increase in inflation will only be short-term and the government and the Bank of England will not need to take any action to reduce inflation. The ending of the Covid support schemes will reduce government spending by £100 billion. While household savings have increased, I don’t believe all of these savings will be spent into the economy next year, or will be large enough to make up for the £100 billion being removed from the economy.

Therefore I believe that the Chancellor should not remove all of the £100 billion from the economy but should commit to continue to spend up to £40 billion of it. I suggest he should make the following changes above the normal upgrades and what has already been announced.

Benefits are due to increase in line with the inflation rate of September which was 3.1%. The triple lock on pensions has been suspended for next year, so instead of pensions increasing by 8% (the expected increase in earnings) they will be increased by 3.1%. As the party now supports a UBI we should be moving towards the idea that a couple receives twice the amount as a single person. Therefore I would make an exception for the couple’s Guaranteed Pension and instead of increasing it by 3.1%, increase it by 8% to £291.92 a week. This would move it from being 1.53 times the single rate to 1.6.

Party policy to scrap the ‘bedroom tax’ and the benefit cap should be implemented.

If the Local Housing Allowance rate was restored to the 50th percentile more than 32,000 households would be lifted out of relative poverty including more than 35,000 children (based on Crisis 2019 figures). Therefore the Local Housing Allowance should be increased to the 40th percentile from April 2022 and the 50th from April 2023.

These four measures should remove many pensioners from poverty.

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Corporation tax – is Rishi Sunak having a Laff(er curve)?

It was Private Eye, perhaps unsurprisingly, who nailed the Conservative U-turn on corporation tax rates. They note Boris Johnson’s quote at the Conservative leadership hustings on 5 July 2019 that;

Every time corporation tax rates have been cut in this country it has produced more revenue.

Perhaps Rishi Sunak wasn’t listening, or perhaps he thinks that the Laffer curve is a bit old hat, but the proposed increase in corporation tax effectively reverses most of the Coalition Government’s cuts in tax rates – George Osborne inherited a basic rate of 28% and a small profits rate of 21%. If the Laffer curve …

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Call for an email campaign to influence the March budget

Last year I emailed Rishi Sunak suggesting some policies for his summer economic statement, which incorporated some improvement to working-age benefit including making permanent the £1000 Universal Credit increase and some economic actions. I think these were far too radical for the Conservatives, so this year I am calling on him to:

  • Extend the £1000 temporary increase in Universal Credit to April 2022 and consider making it permanent;
  • Increase the Benefit Cap by £1000 plus £1105 to cover some of the increase in LHA rates brought in last year (based on the difference between the non-London average for Category D rates) and the inflation uplifts for the last year (1.7%) and this year (0.5%) so the unemployed can benefit from these recent changes. When rounded to the nearest pound the new couple rates would be increased to £22,557 for outside London and £25,623 for London.
  • Make it illegal for anyone to be evicted if they pay the LHA rate they receive and consider what actions can be taken to reduce rent levels and increase LHA gradually back to the 50th percentile.

I think we should email Conservative MPs asking them to write to Rishi Sunak asking him to do these things.

If you agree with me you might wish send an email to your Conservative MP similar to the one below.

I wrote:

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LibLink – Vince Cable: Is Rishi Sunak about to go from hero to zero?

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Writing in the Independent, Vince Cable says that ‘the chancellor’s rapid transition from spendthrift to Scrooge has not yet been noticed by the admiring public but a change has undoubtedly occurred’:

One of the hot stocks of 2020, British chancellor Rishi Sunak, is starting to look seriously overvalued. His political allies, having talked up Sunak earlier in the year, tipping him for the top job, are now hedging their bets. The hero of the spring offensive may be on the brink of becoming the zero of the autumn retreat.

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No Rishi! The country does not share your values

In his speech to the Tory Party conference, Rishi Sunak made a bold declaration: “We share the same values. The Conservative Party and the country.” For a start the 57% of voters who didn’t opt for the Conservatives last December will disagree. But his statement also raises a key question: what are the values that today’s Conservative Party stand for? Anyone who takes a moment to look at Johnson’s Conservatives can see that the party of statecraft, the rule of law and fiscal conservatism no longer exists.

The rest of Sunak’s speech was surprisingly brief and light on policy. One thing he did emphasise was his commitment to balancing the books. But that didn’t seem to matter when it came to getting Brexit done or when announcing huge infrastructure spending.

They say they are about law and order, but have just voted to allow themselves to break international law. And Priti Patel’s speech at the weekend advocating an escalation of the hostile environment towards those seeking asylum made clear the Conservatives aren’t a party that looks out for the most vulnerable in society.

Part of the problem for the Conservatives is their own internal ideological divisions. On the one hand they have a raft of MPs in solidly safe seats who keep their heads down in public and quietly do as they are told, willingly voting for the Government every time. Some of these types also come from Lib Dem facing not-so-safe seats where their bacon was saved by Nigel Farage standing down his Brexit Party troops. 

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A theatre of the absurd!

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It was very welcome to see a centre right chancellor acting like a centre left one.” You can tell there are few things to get excited about when you begin to quote…yourself!

This was something I said, and of course it was about Rishi Sunak, in my most recent article. And just when I thought that the operative word for me was acting, as in acting like, what does the chancellor do, he delivers millions to theatres!

So the operative word, in fact, was also centre, as in centre left. This chancellor is the most left wing since Gordon Brown! And just as we  think we are led by a chancer, we see it is the chancellor we must keep our eye on, out for the main chance!

My previous piece was an angry reflection on the awful decision to reinstate tenant evictions and benefit sanctions during the pandemic. But just as the callousness of this emerges from the DWP, so too now does the creative industries support of a billion and a half arrive from the chancellor. “The creative accounting of Rishi Sunak,” might well be the title of this chapter in the story of this man and his government. Creativity beats callousness, but as I said before, also, oh the confusion, of this government! I do prefer confusion, to callousness, but like creativity best of all!

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Q: Coronavirus state aid.  Who pays the bill?

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A: No one has to pay.

I can imagine the fog in an economist’s head confronted with my question and answer.   This new thinking appears as alchemy to orthodox economists.  Conversely, what they trot out appears to me as an outdated theology, an irrelevant contorting of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Their hand wringing is hollow, “Things cannot go back to how they were.  No More Austerity!” they cry, “The New Sense of Community will not stand for it!”

Chests puffed out quickly deflate as that thread of managerialism runs deep, doesn’t it?  Someone HAS to pay for this Coronavirus aid package that Rishi Sunak has found tucked behind the sofa cushion!   They sweat bullets feverishly calculating the final cost and devising ingenious ways for only the hated bankers and Richard Branson to pay for it, before finally acknowledging that maybe the darkest, quietest voices in the Tory Party have a point….maybe taxes do need to go up, maybe some services do need to be cut.

Any Liberal Democrat who carries on dancing to that Tory tune will lead us to our final death throes.   So let me be clear.

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What we should now be calling for

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On Friday afternoon Rishi Sunak announced that the government would pay up to 80% of wages up to £2500 a month. That is £30,000 a year. He hopes that HMRC will be able to pay all the grants applied for by the end of April. Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans will be available from Monday. Hopefully this will mean that every employer will be able to get the money they need to pay their workers up to £576.92 a week.

He has restored the value of the Local Housing Allowance to the 30th percentile of local rents: the reduced rate from 2011. (It had been the 50th percentile before this.)

However, he is not doing enough for those having to claim benefits. He is only increasing some benefits by £1000 a year (£19.23 a week). A single person’s Universal Credit is increasing from £73.34 a week to £92.57 a week and from 6th April it will be £93.82 a week. Statutory Sick Pay is currently £94.25 a week rising to £95.85 from 6th April.

While the help for those who are still being employed is adequate, it is inadequate for those who are going to have to rely on benefits. The party must call for more to be done for these people.

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