Dominic Raab bullying inquiry expanded to include new complaint, No 10 reveals – UK politics live | Politics

Inquiry into Raab bullying allegations expanded to include complaint relating to his time as Brexit secretary, No 10 says

Downing Street has confirmed that the inquiry into bullying allegations about Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy prime minister, is being expanded to cover claims relating to his period as Brexit secretary, my colleague Pippa Crerar reports.

NEW: No 10 confirms deputy PM Dominic Raab is being investigated over third bullying allegation, this one relating to time as Brexit Secretary.

Other complaints already submitted are from MoJ and Foreign Office. I was told this week that more formal complaints are to come.

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) November 25, 2022

The inquiry was originally set up to consider two complaints, relating to his time as justice secretary and foreign secretary. But at the Downing Street lobby briefing a No 10 spokesperson said:

I can confirm that the prime minister has now asked the investigator to add a further formal complaint relating to conduct at the Department for Exiting the European Union and to establish the facts in line with the existing terms of reference.

The third formal complaint was received by the Cabinet Office on 23 November, the spokesperson said. She confirmed that Rishi Sunak still has confidence in Raab.

Key events

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In his clip for broadcasters, Rishi Sunak said the nurses were asking for a pay rise of 19%.

But this morning Steve Barclay, the health secretary, said the nurses were asking for 17.6%.

@theRCN is demanding a massive pay rise of 17.6% – an increase around three times the average settlement that millions of hardworking people outside the public sector are getting.

— Steve Barclay (@SteveBarclay) November 25, 2022

Sunak says pay rise being demanded by nurses ‘obviously unaffordable’

Rishi Sunak has said that, whilst he has “enormous respect” for nurses, the pay rise they are demanding is “obviously unaffordable”.

The government says the Royal College of Nursing is demanding a pay increase that would in effect by worth 19%, costing £10bn. The RCN has said it does not recognise these figures.

In a clip to broadcasters, Sunak said:

I have enormous respect and gratitude to our nurses as everyone does for the incredible job they do. And I know things are difficult right now for everyone because of what’s happening with inflation.

And that’s why our plans that we outlined last week will get a grip of inflation and bring it down. That’s really important.

And in the meantime, what the unions are asking for, I think, is a 19% pay rise. And I think most people watching will recognise that that’s obviously unaffordable, and that’s why I’m pleased that the health secretary is sitting down, talking to the union, and hopefully we can find a way through this.

In fact, in his more recent public comments on this, Steve Barclay, the health secretary, just said he was willing to meet the RCN. (See 9.14am.) He did not say a meeting was going ahead.

Business organisations and other expert bodies condemn government plans to abolish retained EU laws

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

Dozens of organisations ranging from the National Trust to TheCityUK and medical and engineering bodies have slated the government’s plans to axe up to 4,000 EU laws without due parliamentary process, it has emerged.

The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine warned that removal of EU law in relation to medical radiation used in X-rays and cancer therapy is “possibly very dangerous”.

The retained EU law (revocation and reform) bill committee has today published evidence submitted by 92 organisations including letters from Facebook owner Meta and the independent assessor, the regulatory policy committee, which has said the bill is “not fit for purpose”.

TheCityUK has criticised the failure to give a 90-day consultation process to business. It said:

It is normal good practice, in implementing or revising legislation, to consult stakeholders (indeed this is commonly highlighted as one of the attractions of the UK legal system.)

The British Chambers of Commerce voiced similar concerns that there was no consultation on the potential impact on business, with a survey of its members showing 30% were not even aware of REUL.

The Welsh Senedd said it would be “intolerable” to sunset legislation made by the devolved government, while the National Trust said it welcomed a review of EU law but the REUL was not a “credible path to achieving positive change”.

10 things we’ve learned from Sebastian Payne’s book about the downfall of Boris Johnson

In his Telegraph story about the Boris Johnson/Liz Truss alliance on onshore windfarms (see 11.03am), Daniel Martin says that Truss and Johnson briefly discussed him being foreign secretary in her government before she became prime minister. As Martin says, that is one of the revelations in The Fall of Boris Johnson, a new book about the events leading up to Johnson’s resignation by the Financial Times journalist, Sebastian Payne. It’s out this week and, although the reasons for Johnson’s resignation are well understood, Payne turns it into a gripping story, with copious, insider detail that has not been reported before. I enjoyed it a lot. Here are 10 things I learnt from it.

1) The establishment drew up a plan to stop Boris Johnson calling a snap election as a means of seeing off a leadership challenge. Payne says that as Johnson was clinging on to power, in the period shortly before he announced his resignation, his inner circle did consider the snap election option. But Payne says officials at Buckingham Palace and in Downing Street had a plan to protect the Queen from being put in the position where she would have to decide whether or not to grant Johnson’s request for an election that was wholly unnecessary and entirely about his personal survival. A “magic circle” of Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, Simon Case, the cabinet secretary, and Sir Edward Young, the Queen’s private secretary, agreed they would stop Johnson being allowed to request a dissolution, Payne says:

As Johnson’s grip on power became more precarious, one senior Whitehall insider said of the moment: “If there was an effort to call an election, Tory MPs would have expected Brady to communicate to the palace that we would be holding a vote of confidence in the very near future and that it might make sense for Her Majesty to be unavailable for a day.” Another senior official confirmed it would be politely communicated to Downing Street that Her Majesty “couldn’t come to the phone” had Johnson requested a call with the intention of dissolving parliament.

2) Johnson’s inner circle also considered taking the 1922 Committee to court to stop it changing the rules to allow a second leadership challenge within 12 months, Payne reports. But this idea was ruled out on the basis of legal opinion saying the Conservative party is not responsible for how the 1922 Committee operates.

3) Johnson managed to win round some of the cabinet ministers who went to see him in Downing Street on the night of Wednesday 6 July to urge him to quit. Johnson did announce his resignation the following day, and so it has been assumed that the interventions from Nadhim Zahawi, Michelle Donelan, Kit Malthouse and Brandon Lewis helped to push him out. But Payne says Johnson managed to turn them round. Zahawi began by telling Johnson he should go, but ended their meeting discussing a future joint speech on the economy. Donelan went in saying she would resign, but was persuaded not to. (She did resign the following morning.) Malthouse was also temporarily won round, Payne reports. And Lewis arrived as a critic, but left thinking that he was going to be promoted to be chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster (replacing Zahawi, how was made chancellor on the Tuesday).

4) But Johnson finally realised it would be impossible to stay around 10.30pm that night, after Simon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, refused a promotion to replace Michael Gove as levelling up secretary. “At this moment, Johnson finally reasied it was over,” Payne reports.

5) Johnson told his inner circle that he had to quit becaue it would be unfair on Britain to give it a “D-list government”. Payne reports:

When [Simon] Clarke refused to take levelling up secretary, other names were mooted in the study, including one close Johnson ally who had served him loyally as a minister several times. After hearing the name of the minister being seriously suggested, Johnson told the room, ‘It’s not fair on the nation to give them a D-list government.’

Sadly, Payne has not been able to establish whether or this was Johnson’s way of conceding that his previous administrations were just C-list.

6) Johnson’s inner circle also took advice on how many ministers they actually needed to run a functioning government at around this point, Payne reports. He quotes a senior official saying: ‘We could have probably fudged it, it’s not like some hard and fast thing. If you have an attorney general, you’re okay, basically.’ Apparently in 1834 the Duke of Wellington ran the government more or less single-handedly for a month.

7) No 10 officials knew their Partygate conduct was questionable from the very start, even though they were insisting that Covid rules were followed. Payne says that when the Daily Mirror approached No 10 last year before running its first Partygate story, Dan Rosenfield, the then chief of staff, asked senior people in the press office what had actually happened. Payne goes on:

The sentiment of their discussion was that some things had gone on and that ‘with hindsight, it’s not something we should have done’ but no one argued restrictions were not observed. The aides then went to see Johnson, who needed no second invitation to get into a scrap with the left-leaning paper and take a firm line.

No 10 responded to the Mirror story by saying: “Covid rules have been followed at all times.” It then stuck to this line, even when it became clear it was untrue. Payne says it was Jack Doyle, the communications director, who told Johnson and Rosenfield that he thought all Covid rules were followed in the press office. But Payne also suggests Johnon was at fault for taking this assurance at face value.

8) Johnson agreed the plan to get Tory MPs to shelve the recommendation for Owen Paterson to be suspended from the Commons for breaking the rules on paid lobbying without even reading the standards committee report into what actually happened, Payne reveals. Doyle and Rosenfield had to insist that he did read the report. But at that point Johnson was committed to the plan to try to save Paterson.

9) No 10 thought it came “very close” to losing the support of Chris Whitty in the run up to Christmas 2021, Payne says. At that point Whitty, the chief medical officer, was pushing for tighter Covid restriction, but Johnson was under pressure from Tory MPs to resist. At the time it was clear from what was said in public that ministers and scientists were not fully in agreement, but Whitty never formally disowned government policy.

10) Boris Johnson wasn’t “Big Dog”. In the months before he resigned, it was reported that his allies were running Operation Big Dog to secure his leadership. Key figures in this unofficial whipping operation were Nigel Adams, the Cabinet Office minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, the chief whip, and Grant Shapps, the transport secretary. At the time it was assumed that “Big Dog” referred to Johnnson, but Payne says it was an ironic nickname for Adams himself (who is on the short side). According to other reports, Adams will soon become Lord Big Dog.

Downing Street plays down report claiming foreign students could be banned from non-elite universities

Richard Adams

Richard Adams

Downing Street has played down reports that the government could ban foreign students from attending non-elite universities.

Asked about the story in today’s Times (see 11.35am), Downing Street insisted that the government backed the university sector. But it did confirm that ministers are looking at whether too many low-quality degrees are being awarded, and whether the rules on how many dependents foreign students can bring with them should be changed.

At the lobby briefing a No 10 spokesperson told journalists:

Of course we support our universities. They’re some of the very best in the world. And of course will always act in the best interest of the UK.

We’re looking at the issue of student dependants and and the quality of degrees and we’re doing that following the figures released yesterday.

The spokesperson said she could not “pre-empt” any policy and she declined to define what constitutes a “low-quality” degree.

Earlier, in response to the Times’s story, Vivienne Stern, the chief executive of Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors, said banning foreign students from non-elite universities would be “an act of economic self-harm”. She said:

Cutting international student numbers would run directly counter to the government’s strategy to rebuild the economy – given the huge financial contribution they make to every part of the country.

International students make a net positive contribution of at least £26bn per year to the UK economy and are the source of almost 70% of our education export earnings. They sustain jobs in towns and cities up and down the country. They also bring enormous benefits to university campuses. The financial contribution they make has been essential, given the long term decline in funding for teaching UK undergraduate students, and balancing the books on research.

Limiting international students would be an act of economic self-harm that would damage many parts of the country the government aims to make more prosperous.

Inquiry into Raab bullying allegations expanded to include complaint relating to his time as Brexit secretary, No 10 says

Downing Street has confirmed that the inquiry into bullying allegations about Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy prime minister, is being expanded to cover claims relating to his period as Brexit secretary, my colleague Pippa Crerar reports.

NEW: No 10 confirms deputy PM Dominic Raab is being investigated over third bullying allegation, this one relating to time as Brexit Secretary.

Other complaints already submitted are from MoJ and Foreign Office. I was told this week that more formal complaints are to come.

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) November 25, 2022

The inquiry was originally set up to consider two complaints, relating to his time as justice secretary and foreign secretary. But at the Downing Street lobby briefing a No 10 spokesperson said:

I can confirm that the prime minister has now asked the investigator to add a further formal complaint relating to conduct at the Department for Exiting the European Union and to establish the facts in line with the existing terms of reference.

The third formal complaint was received by the Cabinet Office on 23 November, the spokesperson said. She confirmed that Rishi Sunak still has confidence in Raab.

According to the Times’s splash by Matt Dathan and Nicola Woodcock, ministers are considering stopping foreign students from attending non-elite universities as one means of curbing immigration. Dathan and Woodcock report:

One of the ideas being considered is barring foreign students unless they have a place at an elite university. The universities that take the most foreign students at present include Manchester, Edinburgh, Leeds, Sheffield, University College London, King’s College London and Imperial.

A crackdown on low-quality degrees was promised by Nadhim Zahawi when he was education secretary. His measures, recently introduced by the Office for Students, will penalise universities with high drop-out rates and low graduate earnings.

Dathan and Woodcock say foreign students will also face new limits on the number of dependents they can bring with them.

The SNP has described the proposal as ‘ludicrous’. Stuart McDonald MP, the SNP’s home affairs spokesperson, said:

The Tories trashed the economy with Brexit – and now they are proposing an absurd ban on international students that would deal another hammer blow to Scotland’s economic interests.

Independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from these reckless Tory policies, which are harming our economy and driving away the talent and investment needed to secure growth.

If Westminster imposes this ludicrous and entirely counterproductive policy – it will be doing so against Scotland’s wishes and in the face of strong opposition from the Scottish government.

Boris Johnson and Liz Truss join rebel Tory bid to lift ban on new onshore windfarms

On Wednesday Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary, tabled an amendment to the levelling up bill that would lift the ban on new onshore windfarms. The amendment did not receive a lot of attention because the government’s main problem with the bill is coming not from pro-development Tories like Clarke, but from the anti-development Tories backing the amendment that would abolish mandatory housing targets. Downing Street still has not decided whether to appease these rebels, or face them down.

But the Clarke amendment is now looking much more interesting because it has attracted the support of two high-profile backbenchers – Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

Clarke amendment
Clarke amendment Photograph: HoC

During her short premiership, Truss said she wanted to reverse the ban on new onshore wind developments, and so her decision to back the amendment is not surprising.

But Johnson did not lift the ban during his three years in No 10, which makes his decision to sign the amendment more intriguing. Perhaps he is attracted by a campaign that might destabilise Rishi Sunak, whom he blames for helping to end his premiership? Or it might just be that, as someone more committed to net zero than most senior Tory, he is genuinely in favour of more onshore wind – but just never wanted to push this as PM because he knew it would go down badly with the Telegraph-reading wing of the Conservative party (which includes a large chunk of its MPs).

Seventeen Tory MPs have signed the amendment. More than 50 Tories have signed the Theresa Villiers amendment to abolish mandatory house building targets, but, as the Daniel Martin points out in his Daily Telegraph splash on this story, the Clarke one is potentially more serious because Labour might vote for the Clarke amendment, whereas it will not vote for the Villiers one.

Trust leaders will do “everything in their power to minimise disruption for patients” during the nursing strike, a health leader said. Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents hospitals and other NHS trusts, said:

Trusts up and down the country have been planning for industrial action. Not all of them will be affected directly but those that are will do everything in their power to minimise disruption for patients.

Trust leaders’ priorities are ensuring the safe delivery of care and supporting the wellbeing of staff who continue to work flat out in the face of below-inflation pay awards, severe staff shortages and ever-increasing workloads.

Anneliese Dodds, the Labour party chair, was on Sky News this morning talking about the nurses’ strike. The fact that it was happening was a sign of “gross negligence” by the government, she said. She told the programme:

I have to say that today is a very, very sad day because it really indicates that for the first time in its 100-year history, the Royal College of Nursing is now engaging in industrial action. This is a sign of gross negligence on the part of the Conservative government.

I don’t blame nurses for saying a situation where they’re understaffed, overworked and burnt out isn’t acceptable. But this is going to be hugely disruptive for patients.

If Labour were in government, we wouldn’t be ignoring the nurses as Conservatives seem to have done for so long now. We would be sitting down with them. We’d also be sorting out those enormous staffing issues as well. And we would do that by strapping that non-dom tax loophole and getting the money into the NHS, so that we’re relieving the pressure.

But Dodds refused to say whether a Labour government would give nurses the pay increase they are demanding, saying “it’s not reasonable for a politician to sit and pontificate about 1% up, 1% down”. And when asked if Labour backed nurses going on strike, she replied:

Look, no one supports strikes. Strikes indicate that negotiations haven’t taken place, that they haven’t been serious.

This is going to be bad for nurses because they’ll be losing a day’s pay, obviously, and it’s going to have that impact on patients.

So it’s wrong that nurses have been driven to this stage and it’s wrong that the Conservative Government has not been sitting down with those nurses to avert this.

James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, is in Kyiv, where he has been meeting the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The Foreign Office says he has announced “a further £3m of support to the Partnership Fund for a Resilient Ukraine to rebuild vital local infrastructure”. It says:

Through this fund the UK is supporting the government of Ukraine, local officials and Ukrainian communities to rebuild vital local infrastructure. This is enabling people to return to normal life by clearing debris from Russian attacks, making areas safe and secure, and rebuilding schools and shelters in towns and villages. This new funding will be targeted to areas recently liberated from Russian control in southern Ukraine, including Kherson oblast.

Words are not enough.

Words won’t keep the lights on this winter. Words won’t defend against Russian missiles.

The UK isn’t just talking about Ukraine, we’re providing concrete support for the defence of Ukraine.

Thank you @DmytroKuleba for welcoming me to Kyiv.

— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) November 25, 2022

Life-preserving and emergency care to be exempt from nurses’ strike, says RCN leader

Pat Cullen, the Royal College of Nursing general secretary, told the Today programme this morning “life-preserving services” and emergency care would not be covered by the RCN strikes in December. But she said exact details of what would be exempt were still being worked out. She told the programme:

What we will continue to provide is life-preserving services. And those essentially fall into emergency-type care …

We will have very, very detailed and worked-through plans that every single nurse that is taking strike action will be expected to adhere to.

And in each organisation that is subject to industrial action, we set up within that organisation a local strike committee, which is headed up by a senior member of my team, which will be a registered nurse and also then a number of clinical experts that will guide and direct all decisions that will be made.

Asked if nurses would be on cancer wards on strike days, she replied:

Services such as oncology will be derogated or exempt from any strike action. We have a number of services that we are working through at the minute that will be derogated on the day of strike, and we will release that list soon to employers.

Pressed on scans or cancer checks such as colonoscopies, she said:

All of the detail is being worked through. Those services that are not considered life-preserving or emergency services will not be derogated. Those that do fall into those particular descriptions will be derogated.

Pat Cullen.
Pat Cullen. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish government’s cabinet secretary for health, has stressed that the proposed nurses’ strike will not cover Scotland.

To be clear the RCN nurses strike covers England, Wales and NI, not Scotland. RCN Scotland are currently considering the record pay offer we have put on the table. If accepted it will give NHS (AfC) staff a pay rise of between £2205-£2751, best paid NHS staff in the UK.

— Humza Yousaf (@HumzaYousaf) November 25, 2022

Royal Mail and university lecturers’ strikes continue

Royal Mail workers and university lecturers are again on strike today in long running disputes over pay, pensions, jobs and conditions, PA Media reports. PA says:

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and University and College Union (UCU) walked out on Thursday for 48 hours, with more action planned in the coming weeks.

Picket lines were again mounted outside universities and Royal Mail centres across the country on Black Friday – one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Health secretary Steve Barclay insists nurses getting ‘fair’ pay rise as strike dates announced

Good morning. Another day, another strike, because overnight the Royal College of Nursing has set the date for two 12-hour nursing strikes in December that will affect most of the UK. My colleagues Andrew Gregory and Jamie Grierson have the details here.

Pat Cullen, the RCN general secretary, accused Steve Barclay, the health secretary, of being intransigent. She said:

If Barclay wishes to meet with me, get round the table and stop the spin and start to speak, he can avert these strikes. My door is wide open night and day. I will make myself available, as will my team on behalf of our nursing staff. That option isn’t available to me at this time and consequently he has chosen strikes over speaking to me.

But in tweets this morning Barclay insisted that he was available for talks.

Our priority is keeping patients safe. The NHS has tried and tested plans in place to minimise disruption and ensure emergency services continue to operate but inevitably strike action will have an impact on services.

— Steve Barclay (@SteveBarclay) November 25, 2022

My door remains open to @theRCN if they want to discuss ways we can improve nurses’ working lives.

— Steve Barclay (@SteveBarclay) November 25, 2022

However, he also defended the pay offer already on the table as “fair”.

We have accepted the recommendations of the independent NHS Pay Review Body to give nurses a fair pay rise of at least £1,400 this year. This means a newly qualified nurse will typically earn over £31,000 a year

— Steve Barclay (@SteveBarclay) November 25, 2022

I’ll post more on this shortly. Here is the agenda for the day.

9.30am: MPs debate backbench bill, starting with Liam Fox’s electricity and gas transmission (compensation) bill.

10am: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, addresses the Poverty Alliance conference in Glasgow.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

Lunchtime: Keir Starmer is doing a visit in Birmingham.

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