Gavin Williamson could face investigation over ‘I now own him’ payment as chief whip to Tory MP, committee told – as it happened

Last modified: 05: 59 PM GMT+0

Parliamentary commissioner for standards hints Gavin Williamson is being investigated after claim he gave cheque to MP with financial problems. This live blog is now closed

Afternoon summary

  • Sir Gavin Williamson, the former Tory minister, may face an inquiry over claims that, when he was chief whip, he provided money to a colleague in financial trouble, saying that he would now “own” the MP. The parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, suggested an inquiry might be launched when she was asked about the allegation by the Commons standards committee. (See 4.08pm.)Williamson is not on the list of MPs currently under investigation, but while the commissioner is deciding whether a complain merits formal investigation, MPs are not included on this list.

  • Sunak has refused to apologise for the impact the Tory government has had on the economy – but he has claimed much of the damage caused by the mini-budget has now been reversed. (See 12.20pm.)

  • The House of Commons has backed a Labour motion saying Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng should lose some of their severance pay because of the mess they made of the mini-budget. (See 3.55pm.) Government MPs abstained, and the vote is not binding – although in the past previous governments would have considered themselves morally-bound, if not legally-bound, to implement the result of a vote of this kind. Lucy Frazer, the levelling up minister speaking on behalf of the government, said Truss and Kwarteng were entitled to severance payments because they had served in government for a long time. She said, as individuals, they could decide to waive their severance payments. But “the government doesn’t regard it as appropriate to make arbitrary demands of individuals in relation to their entitlements”, she said.


Gove says central government not to blame for death of child in flat with mould

Michael Gove, the housing secretary, has said that he does not accept central government was to blame for the death of a two-year-old as a result of exposure to mould in a social housing flat.

Responding to the finding of an inquest, which found Awaab Ishak died in 2020 in Rochdale as a direct result of black mould in the flat he lived in, Gove told broadcasters:

We all know that local authorities are facing challenging times when it comes to finance but, frankly, that is no excuse.

When you have got a situation where you have a young child in a house that is unfit for human habitation, it is a basic responsibility of the local authority – but particularly the housing association – to make sure that people are in decent homes.

All this what-aboutery, all this ‘Oh, if only we had more government money’ - do your job, man.

My colleague Mark Brown’s story about the case is here.


Boris Johnson will return as Tory leader when MPs get 'desperate', former party chair Jake Berry claims

Boris Johnson will return as Tory leader because at some point Conservative MPs will conclude that he offers them their best chance at the next election, one of his key allies has claimed.

Sir Jake Berry, a Johnson loyalist who was party chair under Liz Truss but who was sacked by Rishi Sunak, made the prediction in an interview for Matt Forde’s Political Party podcast.

As Ned Simons reports for HuffPost UK, Berry said:

I think Boris will come back. I wouldn’t say when. I think he will come back.

He’s a bit like the Conservative party’s mistress – something he knows about. The tempting other woman. The king over the sea.

Berry said a comeback was likely “when we are desperate”. He went on:

I just think – knowing my Conservative colleagues in parliament – – there will come a point when they go: “Yeah, but if he comes back I might keep my job.”

Berry has been identified as one of several Johnson supporters who seem to be actively destabilising the Sunak administration. As Kevin Schofield reports in another HuffPost story, Berry made public comments about both Suella Braverman and Sir Gavin Williamson that cast doubt on the wisdom of Sunak giving them ministerial jobs when he took office.

Jake Berry
Jake Berry Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images


Cleverly tells MPs deal with EU on Northern Ireland protocol not imminent

James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, has said reports of an imminent deal between the UK and the EU on reform of the Northern Ireland protocol are premature.

In evidence to the Commons European scrutiny committee, Cleverly said sometimes he and European Commission vice president, Maroš Šefčovič, see reports in the British media that “we are about to literally kiss and sign” but they are inaccurate. He went on:

I don’t want people to be defeatist, but also don’t want people to run away with the idea that we are on the cusp of some amazing breakthrough that was there all the time if only we had looked a bit harder.

We shouldn’t rush to the conclusion that therefore everything is about to come good. There is still serious work to do, there are still big gaps.

Cleverly said Šefčovič’s mandate had not changed. The Tory Brexiter David Jones suggested the best way forward was for Šefčovič to get a new mandate and for the government to fast track the Northern Ireland protocol bill. But Cleverly resisted this. He said:

I don’t feel, having had the opportunity to reset the tone of my relationship vice president Šefčovič and the UK relationship with the EU, that defaulting to a position that they might perceive to be one of a more confrontational nature is where I want to go to at the moment.

Cleverly also warned three times that the alternative, a hard border on the island of Ireland was a non starter. “We are not having a hard border in Northern Ireland,” he said.

Committee chair Sir Bill Cash (Con) pressed him on the government’s commitment to ending the protocol, saying progress was so slow it was like “watching the Mary Celeste”.


Gavin Williamson could face investigation over 'I now own him' payment as chief whip to Tory MP, committee told

Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, also hinted that Sir Gavin Williamson is being investigated. Chris Bryant, the Labour chair of the committee, asked what about the rule saying MPs cannot accept a bribe that might influence their behaviour. If a chief whip were to give money to an MP, and they said they owned the MP, would that be a breach of this rule, he asked.

Bryant was clearly asking a recent revelation from Anne Milton about Williamson, who was chief whip when she was deputy chief whip. Milton said that on one occasion he gave her a cheque to give to an MP with financial problems, telling her that she should tell the MP from Williamson that “I now own him”.

Stone said she could not reply to that question because she had to consider whether it might prejudice a live investigation.

In a separate development, Anneliese Dodds, the Labour party chair, has written to Nadhim Zahawi, the Conservative party chair, about the same case.

She says that if a Tory MP was in such financial difficulty, they might have been vulnerable to blackmail by a foreign power. She is asking Zahawi to say who the MP was, whether the gift was declared, who paid for it, whether the PM knew, if further money has been paid, and whether any other Tory MPs have been helped in the same way.

Dodds said:

While Gavin Williamson has rightly resigned for his shocking behaviour, the public will be very concerned about the potential for financial control over other MPs.

This is a matter of national security. Rishi Sunak has already appointed a home secretary sacked for security breaches. The public has a right to know what other potential security risks are on the government benches.


MPs pass motion saying Truss and Kwarteng should have their severance pay cut because of mess they made of mini-budget

In the Commons MPs have just passed by acclamation the Labour motion saying Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng should each lose at least £6,000 from their ministerial severance payments because of the mess they made of the mini-budget. (See 1.51pm.) There was no division, because government MPs were abstaining.

The government argues that it can ignore votes of this kind because opposition motions are not binding. But Labour says the Commons has not passed a censure motion like this since the 1970s, and in the past votes like this were considered binding.


Parliamentary commissioner for standards suggests Hancock's I'm a Celebrity appearance has demeaned politics

Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, has suggested that Matt Hancock’s decision to take part in I’m a Celebrity has demeaned politics.

She is giving evidence to the Commons standards committee about her work and Chris Bryant, the chairman, started by asking her to set out what she found frustrating about her job.

She said one problem was people complaining about matters that fell outside the code of conduct, and she said Hancock was an example. She had received dozens of complaints about his appearance on the reality TV show, she said. She said she could not deal with them because what he was doing was not in breach of the code of conduct for MPs. But she suggested she sympathised with the points people were making. She told the committee:

[The case] raises really important questions about members’ proper activities while they’re supposed to be fulfilling their parliamentary duties, and representing their constituents.

If I may, I’d like to share some correspondence that I heard from a member of the public on this matter. One member of the public contrasted the dignity of veterans on Remembrance Sunday with a former secretary of state, and they said this individual was “waiting for a buffet of animal genitalia” and they wondered what had happened to the dignity of public office.

Stone said the case did raise the question as to what activities MPs should engage in when parliament is sitting. She suggested that was something the committee should consider.

Stone said another aspect she found frustrating was the large number of complaints she was getting about ministers. She suggested this was linked to the absence of an independent adviser on ministers’ interests. And she said the largest volume of complaints she received – just under 1,500 – were about the Partygate fines issued to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak. She said these were outside her remit, but people complained to her because they had nowhere else to go, she said.

Kathryn Stone
Kathryn Stone. Photograph: HoC


Rightwing Tory MPs should stop portraying concerns over the climate and nature as “woke”, and understand that voters are deeply concerned about the crisis, the Conservative minister Zac Goldsmith has warned. My colleague Fiona Harvey has the story here.

Environment Agency staff have voted to strike over pay for the first time in the organisation’s 26-year history, PA Media reports:

Unison said 72% of the 2,800 employees balloted by the union across England - including river inspectors, flood forecasting officers, coastal risk management officers and sewage plant attendants - voted to take action.

Earlier in the year staff - who also work on the Thames Barrier, maintain coastal defences and manage the risk of flooding from rivers, reservoirs and the sea - rejected what they described as an “insulting” 2% pay offer plus a £345 one-off payment.


In her speech in the Commons debate on Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng, Lucy Frazer, the levelling up minister, said ministers were entitled to receive severance payments when they left office. She said:

Ministerial changes and departures are part of the fabric of government. All administrations experience them and they are a routine part of the operation of government.

The payments being discussed today exist because of the unpredictable nature of ministerial office. Unlike in other employment context, there are no periods of notice, no consultation and no redundancy arrangements.

The statutory entitlement has existed for several decades and been implemented by all governments over that period.

Frazer also said that, when Labour left office in 2010, severance payments worth a total of £1m were paid to outgoing ministers.

Minister claims global factors, not mini-budget, to blame for rise in interest rates

Lucy Frazer, the levelling up minister, was speaking for the government in the debate on the Labour censure motion about Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng. (See 1.51pm.) She accused Lisa Nandy of not being honest with people. She opened by saying:

I’d like to be recognising, as the prime minister has said, that mistakes were made. Indeed, no government is immune from mistakes.

But to suggest, as the opposition has done, that these mistakes are the cause of a particular average increase in monthly mortgage rates is simply, wholly inaccurate.

Moreover, to say that is simply failing to be honest with the British people, because the economic downturn and consequent rise in interest rates rise interest rates has been caused by two major global events – the pandemic, and the war in Ukraine.

Although most of the mini-budget has now been reversed, Frazer is ignoring the impact the mini-budget definitely did have on borrowing costs before it was abandoned. In October, after Liz Truss had reversed the corporation tax cut in the mini-budget but before almost all the rest of the mini-budget was abandoned, Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, said the mini-budget would lead to interest rates going up.

And even after the mini-budget was almost entirely consigned to the bin, and after Truss resigned, Bailey said what had happened continued to affect the attitude of financial markets.

MPs to vote on Labour motion saying Truss and Kwarteng should lose some of severance pay over 'disastrous' mini-budget

In the Commons, Lisa Nandy, the shadow levelling up secretary, has just opened the debate on the Labour censure motion about Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng. This is what it says:

That this house censures the former prime minister [Liz Truss] and the former chancellor of the exchequer, [Kwasi Kwarteng] for their mismanagement of the economy while in office, which has resulted in an average increase of £500 per month in mortgage payments for families across the UK; and believes that, if they have not already done so, both right honourable members should waive at least £6,000 of their ministerial severance payments.

As the fact-checking website, Full Fact, has explained, the claim that the mini-budget was wholly responsible for mortgages rising by £500 per month is misleading.

But in her speech Nandy said that it was “no coincidence” that 40% of mortgage products were withdrawn after the “disastrous’ mini-budget and she said she was “angry” about the impact it had had on her constituents.

She said that Truss and Kwarteng, who were not in the chamber, had treated Britons as “lab rats for their own ideology’” with the measures in the mini-budget, and that they had “crashed the economy and let working people pay the price”. And she said 113,000 people had to remortgage between the mini-budget and the U-turn that saw most of its measures abandoned (at which point borrowing costs started to come down again).

Nandy said that Truss was in line for a severance payment of around £19,000, and Kwarteng for one worth around £17,000. She said when the vote on the division came, Tory MPs would face a choice.

They can stand up for people whose hopes and dreams have been broken and shattered, or they can stand with the former prime minister and former chancellor who have profited from a situation with families across the country paying the price for years and years and years to come.

They cannot possibly turn up in this place on Thursday, and tell us that this is about fairness and that they are on people’s side if they don’t back this motion today.

There are millions of people who are affected by this, not just people who are paying more on their mortgages for years and years to come, but the millions of people stuck in rented accommodation, including the thousands who saw their dreams of homeownership shattered as their mortgage offers were withdrawn in the days after the mini-budget.

Opposition day motions are not binding on the government, whereas in the past governments always tried to vote them down, this government increasingly tells its MPs to abstain in these votes, and simply ignores motions passed by the Commons that it finds embarrassing.

But Labour’s Chris Bryant, a historian of parliament, intervened during Nandy’s speech to say there was no precedent for a government ignoring a motion like this. When censure motions like this were passed, ministers either resigned, or lost part of their salary, he said.

Tory MPs are reportedly on a one-line whip today, which means they are not likely to vote against the Labour motion and it will be passed.

According to the Labour party, the last time the Commons passed a censure motion saying a minister should lose some of their salary because of incompetence was in 1976, when Eric Varley, the Labour industry secretary, was the minister involved. The government reluctantly accepted the vote could not be ignored, but it subsequently passed another motion reversing the original vote saying Varley should have his salary cut.


The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, and his wife Iriana Widodo welcoming Rishi Sunak at tonight’s dinner at the G20 Summit in Bali.
The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, and his wife Iriana Widodo welcoming Rishi Sunak at tonight’s dinner at the G20 Summit in Bali. Photograph: Willy Kurniawan/AFP/Getty Images


A woman wearing a scarf in suffragette colours has been asked to leave a session of Holyrood’s equalities committee. She posted on Twitter that she had been asked by Scottish parliamentary staff to remove the scarf as she sat in the visitors’ seats of the committee room this morning, listening to MSPs discussing amendments to the gender recognition reform bill. She refused and was asked to leave. “The Scottish parliament is now policing clothing colours,” she wrote.

I have just been asked to remove my new scarf. I refused because its lovely & inoffensive. Apparently @ScotParl believes these colours are unacceptable while several MSPs wear rainbow lanyards. @ScotParl is now policing clothing colours.#WomenWontWheesht

— 🦖Obsolesence (@Obsolesence) November 15, 2022

On the face of it, this does appear to be an extremely narrow interpretation of the parliament’s code of conduct for visitors, which states: “The display of banners, flags or political slogans, including on clothing and accessories (such as face coverings), is not permitted.”

Context is all of course – the purple, green and white of the suffragette flag has in recent years been adopted by women who oppose some reforms to transgender rights and raise concerns about how these reforms impact on women’s legal protections.

During a committee hearing in June, which I attended, a woman wearing a T-shirt that read: “Nicola Sturgeon, destroyer of women’s rights” was asked to leave – that was clearly an instance of a political slogan (the same slogan was later worn by JK Rowling, an active opponent of the current plans to introduce self-declaration for transgender people wishing to change the sex on their birth certificate).

But are we now at a point where the colours themselves are considered unacceptably political? Respondents to the original Twitter post point out that at least one committee member is wearing a rainbow lanyard, showing support for LGBT+ equality.

The Scottish parliament has been approached for comment.


Sunak says he will take time over future trade deals, after ex-minister says Truss botched Australia deal by rushing it

And here are some remaining lines from Rishi Sunak’s round of interviews.

  • Sunak said he wanted the UK to take time over future trade deals to get them right. Asked by the BBC’s Chris Mason about the trade deal with Australia, which George Eustice said last night was bad for the UK because Liz Truss negotiated it in a rush, Sunak refused to endorse what Eustice said. But he said he did not want to rush in future. He said:

In trade deals there’s always a degree of give or take and there are many positives from this deal [with Australia].

But it is right, going forward, that we don’t sacrifice quality for speed. I want to take the time to get trade deals right for Britain. I think that’s the right approach and that’s what we will do going forward.

  • Sunak refused to answer a question about whether he has private health insurance. Asked about this by ITV’s Anushka Asthana, he said that he had overseen record increases in NHS funding, but that he did not think it was appropriate to talk about his family’s healthcare arrangements.

  • He said he was in favour of the government telling people to save energy this winter. When Liz Truss was PM, she did not want the government to be telling people to save energy, because she thought it was not the role of government to interfere in decisions people could take for themselves. But Sunak told GB News that he would encourage people to save energy, because that was “helpful for reducing bills”.


Sunak says he hopes to hold meeting with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, at G20 summit

Rishi Sunak has also said he hopes to have a meeting with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, at the G20 summit. Asked if he would have a bilateral with Xi, Sunak told Sky News:

I’m hopeful that I can. As I said, I think it’s important that we engage with people to try and tackle some of these shared challenges. And I’m here to talk to people, and that’s what I hope is possible.

If a meeting goes ahead, it will be the first face to face meeting between a UK PM and Xi for almost five years. Theresa May met the president in February 2018. But Boris Johnson and Liz Truss came and went without meeting him in person, although that was partly because of Covid, which saw Xi cut back on international travel even more than most other international leaders.

Rishi Sunak tells Sky's @BethRigby that China poses a systemic challenge to our "values and our interests".

The PM later adds that he is "hopeful" he will be able to meet with China's President Xi Jinping.

📺 Sky 501, Freeview 233 and YouTube

— Sky News (@SkyNews) November 15, 2022

Asked if he saw China as a threat or a challenge, Sunak said:

I’m very clear that China poses a systemic challenge to both our values and our interests, and it represents the single biggest straight threat to our economic security. And that’s why it’s right that we take the steps that are necessary to protect ourselves against that.

He also claimed that his approach to China was similar to that of the UK’s allies. He said:

I think our approach to China is one that is very similar to our allies, whether that’s America, Australia and Canada, all countries that I’m talking about exactly this issue with while we’re here at the G20 summit.

And I think it’s an indisputable fact of the global economy that China is a big part of it. And if we want to solve big global challenges like public health, like Russia and Ukraine, fixing the global economy or indeed climate change, it’s important to have a dialogue and to engage with China as part of solving those challenges.

Xi Jinping meeting the French president, Emmanuel Macron, at the G20 summit in Bali.
Xi Jinping meeting the French president, Emmanuel Macron, at the G20 summit in Bali. Photograph: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images


Sunak refuses to apologise for Tory impact on economy, and says much of damage caused by mini-budget now reversed

Here are the main lines from the Rishi Sunak interviews on the economy, and the autumn statement.

  • Sunak refused repeatedly to apologise for what the Conservative party has done to the economy. Sky’s Beth Rigby asked him at least six times why there had been no apology for the damage done to the economy by the Tory government when Liz Truss was prime minister. In response, Sunak said mistakes were made by Truss on the day be became prime minister. But he declined her invitations to apologise. He said mistakes were made, and he was going to fix them.

  • Sunak claimed a lot of the damage done to the national finances by Truss’s mini-budget had now been repaired. The mini-budget caused long-term government borrowing costs to soar, because the financial markets did not have confidence that Truss had a plausible plan to get borrowing under control. But Sunak said borrowing costs for government had come down. He told Sky News:

I think it’s really important that people understand actually what’s happened since I became prime minister. Over the last few weeks we’ve actually seen all those UK specific factors, in terms of how much we borrow, what’s happened to the pound, those have all considerably improved, and what we’re now facing are the same challenges that many of the countries here are facing as well.

This is similar to the argument used by Kwasi Kwarteng, the chancellor who presented the mini-budget, in his TalkTV interview last week.

Of course I would say to all executives to embrace pay restraint at a time like this and make sure they are also looking after all their workers.

In a situation like this, I’m sure executives of most companies will be thinking about pay settlements for senior management, for their workers and making sure they are fair.

  • He said that nurses wanted a pay rise of 17% and that “most people will understand that’s unaffordable”.

  • He said it was a “tragedy” that people have to use foodbanks, and he said he wanted to get to a position where they were not needed. He told ITV:

I think obviously it’s a tragedy people have to use foodbanks. No one wants to see foodbanks in our society. But while people are using them, I’ve got enormous admiration and gratitude for the people providing them in my constituency and elsewhere as well.

But I do of course want to get to a position where no one needs to use a foodbank.

  • He said the autumn statement would be “good for people” because it would put the public finances in a sustainable position. Sky’s Beth Rigby said that, when she interviewed Liz Truss in September, Truss said she was willing to take decisions that would make her unpopular. Asked if he was also willing to be unpopular, Sunak said that in the summer he had shown he was willing to be “honest” about the challenges facing the country. Asked again if that meant he accepted the autumn statement measures would be unpopular, he replied:

Well, no. I think that what people will see on Thursday is the government is being upfront with people about the challenges that we face. It’s right that we get a grip of inflation. It’s right that we limit the increases in mortgage rates. And that means having public finances that are more sustainable and command the confidence of international markets. That’s also going to be good for people at home. What people will also see is that the way we’ve gone about that is fair is compassionate and I want to be judged on that.

This answer probably says more about the difference in temperament between Sunak and Truss than the difference in policy. Truss seemed to relish confrontation, whereas Sunak seems much more interested in being popular. That may explain why he seems likely to last longer as PM than she did.

Rishi Sunak at the G20.
Rishi Sunak at the G20. Photograph: Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/EPA


Sunak defends Raab, but urges officials with concerns about his behaviour to come forward

Rishi Sunak has done a round of TV interviews in Bali, all embargoed until 12pm. There are plenty of news lines in them.

This is what he is saying about Dominic Raab.

  • Sunak repeatedly refused to deny hearing informal complaints about Dominic Raab’s treatment of officials as a minister before he appointed him deputy PM and justice secretary. No 10 has said that Sunak was not aware of any official complaints about Raab. But when the BBC’s political editor, Chris Mason, asked Sunak five times he was told about unofficial or informal complaints about Raab, Sunak repeatedly refused to answer. He just said he did not recognise the “characterisation” of Raab’s behaviour, and he said he was not aware of any formal complaints.

  • Sunak said he would urge officials who did have concerns about Raab’s behaviour to complaint. Speaking to ITV’s Anushka Asthana, he also said he was not aware of formal complaints about Raab when he appointed him. Asked if there should be an investigation in the light of the many allegations that have since emerged, Sunak replied:

Of course there are established processes in place for people to raise concerns. In all workplaces - private, public - if people have concerns, they should raise them because unless people raise them, it’s hard for people to actually then look into them and make any changes that are necessary.

So I would urge people to do that. Those processes are confidential and it’s right that they are used.


UK strike levels soar as public sector workers face worst pay squeeze

The number of working days lost to strikes in the UK has risen to the highest in more than a decade as pay growth in the public sector falls behind the private sector at the sharpest rate on record, my colleague Richard Partington reports.

Officials 'scared' to go into Raab's office when he was foreign secretary, says former FCO chief, as bullying claims persist

Yesterday Simon McDonald (now Lord Mcdonald), the former Foreign Office permanent secretary, gave an interview saying he was not surprised that staff viewed Dominic Raab as a bully when he was foreign secretary. Today he has gone further, telling Times Radio that many officials were “scared” to go into Raab’s office.

But at the time Raab was not aware of the impact his behaviour was having on people, McDonald said. He explained:

When I worked for him, Dominic Raab was not aware of the impact of his behaviour on the people working for him, and couldn’t be made to see that impact. Colleagues did not complain to me formally. It was kind of their professional pride to cope.

But many were scared to go into his office. His sort of defence was that he treated everyone in the building in the same way. He was as abrasive and controlling with junior ministers and senior officials, as he was with his private secretaries.

After I left, I heard that the outcome of the Priti Patel bullying investigation had a sobering effect on him. And for a time his behaviour improved.

Asked to explain how Raab’s behaviour was intimidating, McDonald said:

It was language, it was tone, he would be very curt with people. And he did this in front of a lot of other people. I think people felt demeaned.

McDonald said he was not aware of anyone submitting a formal complaint about Raab. But he said people were reluctant to complain because the system was seen as biased against them, and he said he hoped Rishi Sunak would reform the system for dealing with allegations of bullying. He said:

What we have at the moment is not fit for purpose. Action is only taken if there is a formal complaint and there is a feeling in the system that the system is stacked in favour of the minister or senior official. So people hesitate to make a formal complaint because of the effect on themselves.

This needs to be reworked. There needs to be somebody of seniority and independence and authority that can connect both with the prime minister and with the emerging subjects of such complaints.

Here is our latest story about the persistent allegations about Raab bullying officials.

A spokesperson for Raab said:

The deputy prime minister has worked in government for over seven years as a minister or secretary of state across four departments and enjoyed strong working relationships with officials across Whitehall. He consistently holds himself to the highest standards of professionalism and has never received nor been made aware of any formal complaint against him.


Here are some more pictures of Rishi Sunak at the G20.

Rishi Sunak arriving for the G20 leaders' summit in Bali this morning (Bali time)
Rishi Sunak arriving for the G20 leaders' summit in Bali this morning (Bali time) Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Rishi Sunak with Olaf Sholz, the German chancellor.
Sunak with Olaf Sholz (left), the German chancellor. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images,
Sunak talking to the Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau (right), during a summit event on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.
Sunak talking to the Canadian PM, Justin Trudeau (right), during a summit event on the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Sunak says Russian foreign minister had to listen as G20 leaders highlighted 'illegality and barbaric nature' of Russia's war

Rishi Sunak has said that he and fellow world leaders highlighted “the illegality and barbaric nature of Russia’s war” at the opening session of the G20 summit. He told broadcasters:

This morning at the G20 we saw international condemnation of Russia’s war in Ukraine. And, with Russia’s foreign minister sitting there, we highlighted both the illegality and barbaric nature of Russia’s war.

And also the devastating impact it’s having on people around the world through higher food and energy prices.

We have a responsibility to work with our G20 allies to fix the global economy, to grip inflation, but also to safeguard and preserve the international order, and that’s what we’re going to do.

World leaders at the opening session of the G20 summit.
World leaders at the opening session of the G20 summit. Photograph: Uae Presidential Court/Reuters

According to Downing Street, Rishi Sunak is “confident” there is growing opposition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine among G20 countries. As my colleague Jessica Elgot reports, in his speech at the opening session of the summit Sunak said that Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine had “profound implications” for the world and that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, should have been willing to come to the G20 to face other world leaders.

The PM’s spokesperson told journalists this morning (UK time) that Sunak is is “confident that there is a growing number of countries who oppose” Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The spokesperson went on:

It wouldn’t be right for me to speak on behalf of other world leaders but there was certainly very strong condemnation from a number of quarters.

I think that the prime minister, as you saw it, was very forthright and frank in his assessment of the problems that we are currently seeing.

Downing Street released a picture of Sunak glowering at the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in the opening session of the summit. The photograph seems routine (although it does inadvertently highlight the fact that Sunak is someone who is never going to win a menacing stare competition – he should take lessons from Theresa May). But the Labour MP Chris Bryant does not approve.

No 10 is just childish. Lavrov understands one thing only, battleground defeat. He knows Sunak endlessly refused to tackle dodgy Russian money in London because his own family benefited. The economic crime bill still doesn’t do the trick.

— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) November 15, 2022


Sunak meets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Rishi Sunak had a meeting at the G20 summit with Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. According to No 10, Sunak did not bring up the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, which Prince Mohammed is thought to have ordered, but he did raise women’s rights, and freedom in Saudi Arabi generally.

After the meeting, the PM’s spokesperson said:

They had a fairly lengthy discussion on some of the work by Saudi Arabia in recent years to improve on social reforms. They talked about issues like women’s rights and the need for more progress on freedoms in the kingdom.

Asked if Sunak raised the 2018 killing, the spokesperson said: “He didn’t raise specific individual cases. That’s not normally the norm in these sorts of things.” The spokesperson went on:

They had a good discussion. I think it was an honest discussion about the importance of the relationship between the UK and Saudi Arabia.

Rishi Sunak meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at the G20 summit.
Rishi Sunak meeting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at the G20 summit. Photograph: Leon Neal/AP


Iain Duncan Smith tells Sunak he would be ‘completely wrong’ to soften stance on China

Good morning. Rishi Sunak is in Bali, and this morning (or this afternoon Bali-time – they are eight hours ahead) he will record a round of TV interviews, which should start playing out before lunch. Sunak had a lengthy huddle (journospeak for an informal, standup press briefing) on his flight to Indonesia, and one line that emerged was that he is backing away from Liz Truss’s plan to recategorise China as a threat. My colleague Jessica Elgot has the story here.

Ten years ago, when the Conservative party was prioritising trade with China above human rights concerns, this would not have been controversial. But now those MPs most critical of China in the House of Commons tend to be Tories, and there is a significant faction in the party who view China primarily, not as a commercial partner, but as a hostile state and a national security threat.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former party leader, is one of the leading figures in this group and this morning he told TalkTV that he was worried that Sunak’s position amounted to “appeasement” of China. He said:

[Sunak] said in the summer, categorically, that he considered China to be a systemic threat. So what we’re seeing here at the moment, I think, is the beginnings of a step away from his original position …

Everything in government flows, the way we treat the Chinese diplomats over here, the ones that were beating up the peaceful protesters in Manchester, the way that we deal with the Confucius Institutes spying on Chinese students, or even these bogus Chinese police stations threatening Chinese expatriates and trying to get them back to China, [from the government’s stance]. All of those are aggressive moves, and it’s time to call them out as what they are, a threat, but I hope he’s not about to do a U-turn, it would be completely wrong.

And it would become really appeasement of China, which is what’s happening in government at the moment.

Here is the agenda for the day.

9am (UK time): Rishi Sunak is recording a series of broadcast interviews at the G20 summit in Bali. They should start appearing on TV or digital media from around 10am.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

11.30am: Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, takes questions in the Commons.

After 12.30pm: MPs begin debating a Labour motion censuring Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng “for their mismanagement of the economy while in office, which has resulted in an average increase of £500 per month in mortgage payments for families across the UK”, and saying they should forfeit their ministerial severance payments. The vote will be at around 4pm.

2pm: James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, gives evidence to the European scrutiny committee about the UK’s new relationship with Europe.

3pm: Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards, gives evidence to Commons standards committee.

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.

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

Alternatively, you can email me at



Andrew Sparrow

The GuardianTramp

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