Early evening summary
Rishi Sunak has said that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to supplying Ukraine with military equipment, including fighter jets. He made the comment at a press conference this evening hours after Boris Johnson said the UK should supply Ukraine with some of its jets now. At his joint press conference with Sunak, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, said he heard “the desire to provide fighter jets” from Sunak when they spoke in private. There is further coverage of Zelenskiy’s visit on our Ukraine live blog.
A controversial and long-awaited report that claimed the government’s Prevent counter-terrorism programme needed to concentrate more on Islamist extremism has been severely criticised as “deeply prejudiced” and having “no legitimacy”.
One of the Russians targeted by UK sanctions on Wednesday to mark Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s visit to London is Vladimir Putin’s alleged former lover, Svetlana Krivonogikh.
Zelenskiy says he heard 'desire to provide fighter jets' from Sunak
Q: Boris Johnson says there is no reason why you should not get jets. What are western leaders saying to you about why they cannot give you jets?
Zelenskiy says he heard from Sunak “the desire to provide fighter jets”.
With Typhoons, it does not just depend on what the UK agrees, he says. (See 2.54pm.)
He also says Ukrainian pilots have already trained for two-and-a-half years – implying they should be qualified to fly Nato planes soon.
And that’s it. The press conference is over.
Sunak says it is 'totally wrong' to suggest UK has been reluctant to send military equipment to Ukraine
Q: Are you personally willing to send Typhoon jets to Ukraine?
Sunak says the questioner (Harry Cole from the Sun) is “totally wrong” to suggest there is any reticence about sending equipment to Ukraine. There has been very close cooperation and engagement between the UK and Ukraine.
The UK has changed its strategy so it can supply more support, he says.
He repeats his point about nothing being “off the table”. He says it takes three years to train a fighter pilot from scatch. But Ukraine has trained flighter pilots, so it would not take that long, he suggests.
But he says you have to provide supplies. And some UK planes are produced jointly with other countries, and so their agreement is needed.
The UK has been “out in front”, he says.
Q: How urgently do you need jets?
Zelenskiy says equipment is running out. There is a risk of Russians living on Ukrainian territory. They have just captured a nuclear plant, he says.
Sunak says UK should probably have started training Ukrainian pilots earlier
Q: Boris Johnson says we should be sending fighter jets now. Why are we not doing that?
Sunak says the UK has continually led in terms of supplying equipment to Ukraine. And now it is training pilots. He says this should “probably” have started a long time ago, because the UK has a longstanding training arrangement with Ukraine.
A reporter from BBC Ukraine goes next. She starts by giving Zelenskiy a hug.
Q: When will you supply equipment to Ukraine?
Sunak says his conversations with Zelenskiy have focused most on protecting Ukrainians. That is why they have focused on giving air defence systems.
They have also been talking about what Ukraine needs for decisive victory. He says they have talked about the need for long-range missiles.
The bravery of Russian soldiers is awe-inspiring, he says.
Q: When will you stop London being a centre for Russians laundering their money?
Sunak says the UK has put forward the most extensive sanctions package of any country. More sanctions have been announced today.
Q: [To Zelenskiy] When do you think the Russian offensive will happen? What UK jets do you need? And what will happen if you don’t get them?
Zelenskiy says what Ukraine needs depends on the situation.
The Russians are trying to make the Ukrainians flee. But they won’t flee.
Ukraine needs air defence systems, he says.
He says Nato vehicles are the best. But Ukraine only has a few of them, he says.
He says he has spoken to Sunak about jets. He will be talking to EU leaders about this too.
And Ukraine needs longer-range missiles too, he says. They need to push back the Russians so that people can live.
As for when the offensive will start, he says Ukraine is living in a state of war anyway.
He would like to have the Russians thinking about the Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Sunak says 'nothing off the table' when it comes to UK supplying military equipment, including jets, to Ukraine
Q: [To Sunak] Can you clarify – will you give jets to Ukraine, and when?
Sunak says “nothing is off the table” when it comes to giving equipment to Ukraine. The UK showed that last year.
It was the first G7 nation to supply battletanks to Ukraine. Many countries followed the UK’s lead.
“Of course” fighter jets are part of the conversation. That is why the UK is now training Ukrainian pilots. That process has started today, but it takes some time.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy is speaking now. He is speaking in Ukrainian.
He says he is glad MPs showed today that they will never betray the spirit of Ukraine.
From the Wall Street Journal’s Max Colchester
Rishi Sunak says 10,000 Ukrainian troops have visited Britain to be trained.
And recently dozens arrived to be trained on the British tanks being sent to Ukraine.
He says the dedication, courage and determination of the Ukrainians is a credit to their country.
The UK will always be by your side, he tells Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Sunak says the UK is also accelerating the delivery of equipment to Ukraine.
Challenger 2 tanks will be in use in Ukraine next month, he says.
And today he has agreed to expand the training programme, he says.
We must arm Ukraine in the short term. But we must bolster Ukraine for the long term.
It must never be left vulnerable again, he says.
Russia must see that their tactics “are only solidifying western resolve”.
The press conference is starting now.
Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelenskiy to hold press conference
Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelenskiy are due to hold a press conference shortly. This is from the Sun’s Harry Cole.
Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelenski
Boris Johnson receives £2.5m sum as advance for speeches
Boris Johnson has received £2.5m as an advance for speeches, meaning he has received earnings, hospitality and donations worth more than £5m over the last six months since leaving office, my colleague Rowena Mason reports.
This is from Ukraine’s foreign ministry on President Zelenskiy’s visit to the UK.
Extracts from Zelenskiy's speech to parliament
Here are some extracts from Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s speech to MPs and peers in Westminter Hall earlier. Zelenskiy has a reputation as a first class orator, who since the war started last year has brilliantly tailored his speeches to foreign parliaments to resonate with their own national stories, and his performance today has been widely praised.
On being inspired by Churchill’s chair, when he visited the Cabinet War Rooms in 2020
The programme was packed, Royal Highnesses William and Catherine and Buckingham Palace and aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy, the Westminster, of course, Downing Street, and of course, the War Rooms and there is an armchair in the War Room, Churchill’s famous arm chair, and a guide smiled and offered me to sit down on this armchair from which war orders have been given, and he asked me how did they feel?
And I said that I suddenly felt something. But it is only now that I know what the feeling was.
And all Ukrainians know it perfectly well too. It is a feeling of how bravery takes you through the most unimaginable hardships to finally reward you with victory.
On Britain, and Boris Johnson’s, support for Ukraine
London has stood with Kyiv since day one, from the first seconds and minutes of the full-scale war, Great Britain you extended your helping hand when the world had not yet come to understand how to react.
Boris: you got others united when it seemed absolutely, absolutely impossible. Thank you.
You, all of you, you all showed your grit and character back then, strong British character. You didn’t compromise Ukraine. And hence, you didn’t compromise your ideals. And thus, you didn’t compromise the spirit of these great islands.
On meeting the King
And I also intend to tell him something that is very, very, very important, not only for the future of Ukraine, but also for the future of Europe. In Britain, the king is an air force pilot and in Ukraine today, every air force pilot is a king for us.
On Ukraine’s need for fighter jets
And I’m proud of our air force and I brought a present from them to you Great Britain.
…it is the helmet of real Ukrainian pilot. He’s one of our most successful aces and he’s one of our kings. The writing on the helmet reads: “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it.”
I trust this symbol will help us for our next coalition, coalition of the planes and I appeal to you and the world with simple and yet most important words, combat aircraft for Ukraine. Wings for freedom.
Peroration – and his final appeal for jets
I’m not saying there will be no more wars after the war ends. No. It is impossible to completely erase evil from human nature.
Yet it is in our power to guarantee, with words and deeds that the light side of human nature will prevail – the side you and us share and this stands above anything else.
Thank you for your attention, thank you for your support. And leaving British parliament two years ago I thanked you for delicious English tea.
And I will be leaving the parliament today thanking all of you in advance for powerful English planes.
God Bless Great Britain and long, long live the King. Slava Ukraini.
Amnesty International says review of Prevent programme 'riddled with biased thinking'
Amnesty International UK has strongly criticised the conclusions of the Shawcross review into the Prevent programme. Ilyas Nagdee, Amnesty’s racial justice director, said:
This review is riddled with biased thinking, errors, and plain anti-Muslim prejudice – frankly, the review has no legitimacy.
There’s mounting evidence that Prevent has specifically targeted Muslim communities and activists fighting for social justice and a host of crucial international issues – including topics like the climate crisis and the oppression of Palestinians.
There is growing evidence that Prevent is having disastrous consequences for many people; eroding freedom of expression, clamping down on activism, creating a compliant generation and impacting on individual rights enshrined in law.
A proper independent review of Prevent should have looked at the host of human rights violations that the programme has led to – but these have largely been passed over in silence.
Cage, which campaigns on behalf of “communities impacted by the war on terror”, said Prevent should be abolished. It said the Shawcross report, and the government’s response to it, confirmed that Prevent was not a safeguarding tool, but “solely a policing and surveillance tool”.
In the Commons the Labour MP Kevan Jones, who sits on parliament’s intelligence and security committee, said that Suella Braverman was wrong to say the Prevent programme took too broad an approach to the threat posed by rightwing extremists. He said a report from his committee last year showed that that was not the case. Rightwing extremism and Islamism were both serious threats, he said.
In response, Braverman said Islamist extremism was “undeniable by far the greatest security threat” to the country.
Publishing its report last year, the ISC said: “The threat from extreme rightwing terrorism is on an upward trajectory, populated by an increasing number of young people and driven by the internet.”
Turning back to the anti-terror Prevent programme, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, criticised the government for not updating its counter-terrorism strategy since 2015. She said it needed to tackle both the threat from Islamism and the threat from the rightwing extremists. She said:
It is very clear Prevent and the wider counter-extremism strategy need to tackle both and both are changing fast. So Islamist extremism very often now is about single actors and lone actors, not just the organised groups that we saw some years ago.
And with far-right extremism likewise we have seen very many changes in the way in which those threats take place, and we’ve seen the rise of new kinds of ideologies and extremist threats including incels as well. There should be no hierarchy of extremism.
No 10 says UK to consider how it could give jets to Ukraine, not now, but as 'long-term solution'
This is what the PM’s spokesperson said at the lobby briefing about how the government is now considering whether the UK might want to give fighter jets to Ukraine in the future.
We think this is right to provide both short-term equipment like Challenger tanks, additional guns, longer-range capabilities that can help win the war now, but also look to the medium-to-long term to ensure Ukraine has every possible capability it requires.
The prime minister has tasked the defence secretary with investigating what jets we might be able to give but, to be clear, this is a long-term solution rather than a short-term capability, which is what Ukraine needs most now.
The spokesperson also said that the UK would start training Ukrainian pilots in the spring, but he would not give a precise date. He said:
We are keen to do whatever is possible to get these pilots trained up as fast as possible. But these are complex pieces of military equipment. And as you know the current training period for UK pilots is around five years.
Boris Johnson is pushing at a door which, if not exactly open, isn’t firmly closed either, when it comes to sending jets to Ukraine. (See 2.54pm.) PA Media has just snapped this from the lobby briefing.
Rishi Sunak has asked the defence secretary to investigate what jets the UK could potentially give to Ukraine, Downing Street said, but called it a “long-term solution”.
Nato countries have resisted sending fighter jets to Ukraine. But, by announcing today that the UK will start training Ukrainian pilots, Rishi Sunak is delivering “a carefully couched hint to the rest of Nato that at some point it may have to provide modern jets to help Ukraine defend its airspace from the Russian air force”, my colleague Patrick Wintour, the Guardian’s diplomatic editor, argues.
You can read his piece in full here.
The UK government is being urged to sack Tony Abbott, a former Australian prime minister, as one of its trade advisers after he joined a thinktank that has denied the scale of the climate crisis and campaigned against net zero. My colleague Helena Horton has the story here.
Boris Johnson has also posted an extract from President Zelenskiy’s speech on Twitter. With characteristic modesty, he has chosen the moment when Zelenskiy praised him warmly. (See 1.17pm.)
Johnson steps up pressure on Sunak, saying UK should send some of its Typhoon jets to Ukraine now
Boris Johnson has issued a statement saying that the UK should send some of its Typhoon fighter jets to Ukraine now. When he was in the US last week, Johnson spoke in general terms about the need for the west to supply Kyiv with fighter planes. But in a statement released to journalists this afternoon, he says that the UK has jets that it could send and that they should be deployed now.
It is time to give the Ukrainians the extra equipment they need to defeat Putin and to restore peace to Ukraine. That means longer-range missiles and artillery. It means more tanks. It means planes.
We have more than 100 Typhoon jets. We have more than 100 Challenger 2 tanks. The best single use for any of these items is to deploy them now for the protection of the Ukrainians – not least because that is how we guarantee our own long-term security.
Today’s investment in helping Ukraine will avert instability and chaos for years to come. By helping Ukraine to push back Putin, we can make our world safer – and above all, save an innocent country from destruction.
It is true that the Typhoon is a four-nation plane and that we require the approval of allies for export. But there is no reason to think that Germany or others should oppose our decision – these are UK planes.
In the year since Putin’s barbaric invasion, we have learnt that he fears nothing except the heroism of the Ukrainians and western willingness to give them the tools they need.
Every time we have stepped up with more military support the Ukrainians have responded and turned the tide of war. Now is the time to give them exactly what they need to finish the job.
This is awkward for Rishi Sunak because only last week, in response to what Johnson was saying about the need for the west to give Ukraine fighter jets, Downing Street depicted this as unrealistic, saying it would take at least three years to train a new jet pilot.
But Sunak has already moved somewhat towards the Johnson position, announcing this morning that the UK will start training Ukrainian pilots. (See 9.37am.)
Braverman says Prevent has defined threat from extreme rightwing 'too broadly'
In her statement to MPs Suella Braverman also critcised Prevent for being too focused on rightwing extremism. She said:
While obscuring the Islamist threat, Prevent has defined the extreme rightwing too broadly, encompassing the respectable right and the centre-right.
The threat from the extreme rightwing must not be minimised. It is serious and it is growing. It must be robustly addressed.
But it is not the same, either in nature or scale, as the threat from Islamism.
Prevent is a security service, not a social service.
Braverman says Prevent has not focused enough on Islamism because of 'fear of charge of Islamophobia'
In her statement to MPs Suella Braverman said that she wanted the Prevent programme to focus on security, “not political correctness”.
She said that 80% of counter-terrorism police’s ongoing investigations are into Islamist threats. MI5 says Islamist terrorism is the “predominant threat”, she said, “accounting for 75% of the caseload”.
But only 16% of Prevent referrals in 2021-22 were Islamist, she said. She went on:
Prevent has shown cultural timidity, and an institutional hesitancy to tackle Islamism through fear of the charge of Islamophobia. These are false charges that spread fear and misinformation within communities.
Braverman says Prevent programme will now focus more on threat from Islamist terrorism
In response to the Shawcross report, Suella Braverman, the home secretary, said Prevent would now focus more on the threat posed by Islamist terrorism. In a statement she said:
Prevent will now ensure it focuses on the key threat of Islamist terrorism. As part of this more proportionate approach, we will also remain vigilant on emerging threats, including on the extreme right.
This independent review has identified areas where real reform is required. This includes a need for Prevent to better understand Islamist ideology, which underpins the predominant terrorist threat facing the UK.
I wholeheartedly accept all 34 recommendations and am committed to quickly delivering wholesale change to ensure we are taking every possible step to protect our country from the threat posed by terrorism.
Braverman is now making a statement to MPs about the report.
Anti-terror Prevent programme stricter with rightwing extremism than with Islamism, review says
A review has found that the government’s anti-terror programme is not doing enough to tackle “non-violent Islamist extremism”, PA Media reports. PA says:
The findings of the long-awaited assessment of the Prevent programme – which aims to stop people turning to terrorism – was published today and recommended a series of reforms.
Led by former Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross after being ordered by former home secretary Priti Patel in 2019, the review found Prevent “is not doing enough to counter non-violent Islamist extremism” and “has a double standard when dealing with the extreme rightwing and Islamism”.
Among the findings in the wide-ranging review, the report said: “Challenging extremist ideology should not be limited to proscribed organisations but should also cover domestic extremists operating below the terrorism threshold who can create an environment conducive to terrorism.”
And this is what the Shawcross report says about the “double standard” between the treatment of rightwing extremism, and Islamism. It says:
Prevent takes an expansive approach to the extreme rightwing, capturing a variety of influences that, at times, has been so broad it has included mildly controversial or provocative forms of mainstream, rightwing leaning commentary that have no meaningful connection to terrorism or radicalisation.
However, with Islamism, Prevent tends to take a much narrower approach centred around proscribed organisations, ignoring the contribution of non-violent Islamist narratives and networks to terrorism.
Prevent must ensure a consistent and evidence-based approach to setting its threshold and criteria, and ensure it does not overlook key non-violent radicalising influences.
As PA Media reports, the government has accepted all 34 recommendations made in the 188-page report.
The full report is here. The government’s response is here. And her is the Home Office’s news release.
Zelenskiy steps up pressure for UK to supply Ukraine with jets by thanking MPs 'in advance' for 'powerful English planes'
President Zelenskiy ended his speech by saying he wanted to thank his audience in advance for supplying Ukraine with “powerful English planes”.
It was a stirring speech, and at times very moving. There is more coverage on our Ukraine live blog, and I will post some excerpts here later.
But, as his “thank you in advance’” peroration showed, it was also a very powerful lobbying job. It is harder to see Ukraine not getting fighter jets in the end now. (See 9.37am.)
Senior SNP figures question Sturgeon's plan to make next election de facto referendum on independence
Senior SNP figures are urging members to reject Nicola Sturgeon’s proposal to run the next general election as a de facto referendum when the party meets to debate the plans at a special conference in March.
Former Westminster defence spokesperson, Stewart McDonald MP, and former Holyrood health secretary Alex Neil, have put forward a paper arguing that a de facto referendum – proposed by Sturgeon after the supreme court ruled that Holyrood could not hold a poll without Westminster’s consent – will not deliver independence.
McDonald, formerly viewed as a Sturgeon loyalist, instead urged the party to build sustained majority support for independence in order to force Westminster agreement to a legal referendum.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland, McDonald said:
I think part of the reason why we are stuck at the moment and that there is this miasma of impatience – impatience that I share entirely – is because support for independence isn’t yet clearly the sustained majority opinion in Scotland.
I think that is the problem that we need to fix with some urgency before we go into the next election.
Zelenskiy thanks Boris Johnson for uniting behind support for Ukraine 'when it seemed absolutely impossible'
Boris Johnson posted this on Twitter earlier.
In his speech, President Zelenskiy has just praised him generously, saying that he got allies to unite behind support for Ukraine when that seemed impossible. He said:
Boris, you got others united when it seemed absolutely, absolutely impossible. Thank you.
From the FT’s Jim Pickard
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, is welcoming President Zelenskiy.
He says that parliament’s support for Ukraine included holding an exhibition at Portcullis House last year highlighting war crimes committed by the Russians during the war.
The SNP MP Ian Blackford has posted a video on Twitter of President Zelenskiy’s arrival in Westminster Hall.
President Zelenskiy is arriving in Westminster Hall now to address MPs and peers. He is being greeted with prolonged applause and cheering.
My colleague Léonie Chao-Fong is leading our Ukraine coverage on our Ukraine live blog, and she is covering the speech there.
PMQs - snap verdict
There is a lot more consensus in politics than you would think from reading the papers. Disagreement makes news, agreement normally doesn’t, and consensus can be a bit dull. But it is also less dispiriting than the usual PMQs fare, and this was one of those exchanges between the PM and the leader of the opposition where the main competition was who could agree the most – on support for Ukraine. With Volodymyr Zelenskiy in London, that is what most MPs will have wanted to see.
That said, there was some politics in the Rishi Sunak/Keir Starmer exchanges if you peered closely. Both leaders are under internal pressure to burnish their hawkish, pro-Ukraine credentials – Sunak, to show he can match Boris Johnson’s Churchill tribute act, and Starmer, to bury the legacy of Jeremy Corbyn – and that was on show today.
Quite subtly, Starmer was also pushing Sunak to go slightly further than he probably wanted. He asked Sunak if he agreed “this terrible conflict must end with the defeat of Putin”. Sunak said: “Our objective remains to ensure a Ukrainian victory.” The disinction between Russian defeat and Ukrainian victory may seem minimal, but some Nato leaders have been wary of committing to a Russian “defeat” because that would imply President Putin’s downfall too. Johnson used to say that Russia “must fail”.
Starmer also asked Sunak if he agreed that “Putin and all his cronies must stand at The Hague and face justice”. Sunak more or less agreed, but he phrased his reply in more general terms. “We must hold those to account for the horrific crimes that they have committed,” he said.
With Starmer focusing on Ukraine, it was left to Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, to lead the attack on Sunak over domestic policy. He did so effectively, and with humour, and highlighted the failure of Liz Truss, and Sunak, to apologise for what the government did to the economy with its mini-budget last autumn.
PMQs is over. Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, says he is suspending the sitting until 2pm to allow MPs to listen to President Zelenskiy in Westminster Hall.
Feryal Clark (Lab) asks if the government will announce further support for victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Sunak says they need search and rescue help now. The UK has provided help. In Syria, the UK is funding the White Helmets. The UK will continue to provide all the support needed, he says.
Anna Firth (Con) asks if Sunak agrees apprenticeships are a great pathway into work. Sunak does, and he points out that the education secretary, Gillian Keegan, is a former apprentice.
Liz Twist (Lab) asks about funding for buses in her constituency.
Sunak says the government is investing £3bn in bus transformation over the course of this parliament.
Keiran Mullan (Con) asks about a campaign to rebuild a hospital in Cheshire.
Sunak says he knows the money has had some funding already. The Department of Health is looking for new hospitals to be included in its rebuilding programme, he says.
Richard Foord (Lib Dem) asks about people who are off the gas grid. They need money upfront to pay for their energy. They are still waiting for the alternative fuel payment, he says.
Sunak says the government considered this group when it set up the energy support scheme. That money should be getting to people, he says.
Kerry McCarthy (Lab) asks what the government is doing to address mental trauma among young people.
Sunak says the government has announced extra spending on mental health provision for young people.
Vicky Ford (Con) proposes a minute’s national silence on the first anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine to show British support for the country.
Sunak says the government will consider what it, and other allies, can do to mark the anniversary.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Lab) asks how much public money is spent by units that monitor what people say on social media, including politicians.
Sunak says he believes in free speech, and will continue to support it.
Karen Bradley (Con) asks Sunak to thank people who have helped to welcome Ukrainian refugees in her constituency.
Sunak does, and he says President Zelenskiy told him this morning how grateful he was what the British people have done in this respect.
Peter Bone (Con) says human trafficking has nothing to do with people-smuggling, which is what happens with the small boats. A third of trafficking happens within UK borders. Will the PM appoint a commissioner to investigate this? He says the post has been vacant.
Sunak says he will ensure someone is appointed.
Peter Gibson (Con) asks if opt-out HIV testing will be extended. He recalls a friend who died from HIV.
Sunak says he is happy to discuss what more can be done to extend HIV testing.
Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, agrees with what has been said about the earthquake, and President Zelenskiy. He says it is a source of great pride that the British people have backed the people of Ukraine. He says last yaer Zelenskiy said the UK should treat Russia as a terrorist group. Will the UK proscribe the Wagner mercenary group?
Sunak says the UK has taken the lead in imposing sanctions on entities connected with the war effort. He says the Wagner group has already been sanctioned. The government does not comment on groups that might be proscribed, he says.
Rishi Sunak declines to apologise for economic chaos under Truss but says mistakes were made
Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, says Liz Truss said she did not regret her time in office. Does Sunak regret it?
This provokes laughter.
Sunak says he is grateful to the contribution from all his predecessors.
Flynn says Truss won’t apologise for what happened when she was PM. Will Sunak apologise?
Sunak says, when he became PM, he said mistakes had been made.
Antony Higginbotham (Con) asks Sunak to keep backing the Team Tempest programme.
Sunak says the government is committed to the programme, and the building of the jet in Lancashire.
Starmer says Labour helped to found Nato, and he says its commitment to it is as unshakeable now as it was then. Does the PM agree with have a duty to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom, liberty and victory?
Sunak says Britain is Ukraine’s leading European ally. He says the country will stand united with Ukraine until we see the defeat of Putin’s aggression.
Starmer asks if Sunak agrees Russia should pay for the damage it caused through the wealth lying dormant in Russian assets.
Sunak says the UK has taken the lead in sanctioning Russia. Funds that are here will be put aside for Ukainian reconstruction, he says.
Starmer says he used to have responsibility for fighting for justice at The Hague for the victims of Serbian aggression. Does the PM agree that Putin and his cronies must face justice after the war?
Sunak says he agrees that the aggressors must face justice. He hopes to see the first indictments at the international criminal court shortly.
Starmer asks if Sunak agrees that continuing the international effort is the only way to ensure Putin’s defeat.
Sunak says the UK was training Ukrainian forces before the conflict started. Last year 10,000 soldiers were trained. This year it will be 20,00. But it is an international effort. He says other countries have come to the UK to take part in the training effort.
Starmer says every time President Putin has been appeased, he has come back for more. Does the PM agree this conflict must end with the defeat of Putin.
Sunak says the conflict must end with victory for Ukraine. Putin cannot be seen to have succeeded, he says. The UK will support Ukraine to ensure “decisive military victory”.
Keir Starmer says more than 11,000 people have died in the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. There will be people here waiting nervously for news, he says.
He says parliament is honoured to welcomed President Zelenskiy. He has symbolised the bravery of the people of Ukraine.
He says it is vital that we all continue to stand together in full support for Ukraine.
Sunak agrees with what Starmer said about the earthquake. The UK is providing assistance to the Turkish authorities, he says.
And he thanks Starmer for what he said about Ukraine.
Philip Hollobone (Con) asks Sunak to tackle “the doom and gloom peddled by people who want this country to fail”.
Sunak says he will continue to focus on delivery.
Rishi Sunak starts by saying he is delighted President Zelenskiy is in the UK today. He says the UK is extending its training to cover jet pilots. (See 9.37am.)
Chris Heaton-Harris, the Northern Ireland secretary, has been taking NI questions before PMQs.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, used a question to argue that the supreme court judgment this morning showed that Northern Ireland’s position in the UK has been altered from what was set out in the Act of Union. He said:
This morning in the supreme court of the United Kingdom, the court has issued a judgment in relation to the constitutional implications of the protocol and that judgment has brought great clarity to the reality that the Protocol has altered Northern Ireland’s position in the United Kingdom by virtue of subjugating article Six of the Act of Union, which gives us the right to trade freely within the United Kingdom.
It also changes a key principle at the heart of the Good Friday or Belfast agreement, which is the need for cross-community consent on matters of import to the people of Northern Ireland and the court confirmed that that has been changed without the support or consent of the people of Northern Ireland. These are the things that need to be addressed in UK law to restore our place within the United Kingdom.
The TUV leader Jim Allister has made the same argument. See 11.29am.
Heaton-Harris said he agreed the protocol needed to change.
And Rishi Sunak has left now left No 10 for PMQs.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy is being driven out of Downing Street for parliament, where he is addressing MPs and peers at around 1pm. He will be speaking in English. When he addressed the Commons by video last year, he spoke in Ukrainian, with MPs listening to a translation.
Zelenskiy will not be in the gallery for PMQs, Sky reports.
Sunak to face Starmer at PMQs
Rishi Sunak won’t be dawdling in Downing Street. He is due in the Commons at 12pm for PMQs.
Here is the list of MPs down to ask a question.
Shortly after PMQs, at about 1pm, Zelenskiy will address MPs and peers in Westminster Hall.
He will then be travelling with Sunak to the south-west of England, where they will see members of the Ukrainian armed forces being trained. Sunak and Zelenskiy will then hold a short press conference.
Sky News has just broadcast a clip of Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelenskiy in No 10. Zelenskiy was saying he had a “very good relationship” with Sunak.
Downing Street staff applauded as President Zelenskiy arrived. That is not usual when a foreign leader arrives.
Sunak and Zelenskiy arrive at No 10
Rishi Sunak and Volodymyr Zelenskiy have arrived in Downing Street.
Supreme court judgment saying NI protocol lawful show why it is so unacceptable, unionist leader claims
Jim Allister, leader of Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), the party he set up as a more hardline alternative to the DUP, said that the supreme court judgment about the Northern Ireland protocol being lawful did not make it any more acceptable politically. He said:
The essence of our legal challenge was to the lawfulness of the protocol The fact the supreme court is satisfied it was lawfully made does not in the least affect its political unacceptability, nor its dire constitutional consequences.
Indeed, findings of the supreme court greatly strengthen our case against the protocol.
The declaration that the protocol has suspended article 6 of the Acts of Union confirms everything we have said about it dismantling the union. Article 6 is the bedrock of the economic union that is the United Kingdom.
If anything, the supreme court ruling must embolden the political campaign against the protocol, because that is now the critical arena of challenge.
There can be no let up or discharge in the political war against the Protocol, else our place in the United Kingdom will never be restored. It is hard to see how Stormont ever returns in circumstances where article 6 of the Acts of Union is in suspension.
Here is my colleague Lisa O’Carroll’s full story about the supreme court ruling that the Northern Ireland protocol is lawful.
Suella Braverman, the home secretary, will be making a statement to MPs after 12.30 about the Shawcross review into the Prevent programme, it has been confirmed.
Sunak welcomes Zelenskiy to UK on his arrival at Stansted airport
Rishi Sunak was at Stansted to welcome President Zelenskiy, he reveals. That explains how they are going to fit in a meeting before PMQs. (See 10.47am.) It is very unusual for a visting leader to be greeted at the airport by the PM. Normally someone more junior is there to do the honours.
To coincide with President Zelenskiy’s visit, the government will today announce further sanctions against Russia, “including the targeting of those who have helped Putin build his personal wealth, and companies who are profiting from the Kremlin’s war machine”. The details are due out later this morning.
President Zelenskiy has landed at Stansted, Sky News is reporting. He is heading for No 10 for a meeting with Rishi Sunak. But with Sunak due at PMQs at 12pm, it may be a short meeting.
President Zelenskiy to have audience with King Charles, as well as addressing parliament, Buckingham Palace says
Back to the visit of President Zelenskiy, and Buckingham Palace has just announced that he will have an audience with King Charles when he’s here.
Commons committee suggests more generous redundancy payments, and perhaps medals, for MPs leaving parliament
The Commons administration committee has published a report on what can be done to better support MPs as they leave parliament. Its main argument is about the loss of office payment, which the committee says compares unfavourably with the sort of redundancy payment other equivalent professionals get when they lose their jobs, but the item attracting most attention is a proposal for medals for outgoing MPs.
This is what the report says about loss of office payments.
Members who lose their seat at a general election after a period of two years’ continuous service are entitled to a loss-of-office payment equal to double the statutory redundancy entitlement. In the case of MPs the statutory maximum wage of £571 per week is used for the calculation. Receiving the payment is conditional on several matters first being concluded in the winding-up of offices ….
We heard in evidence and in informal discussions that the conditional nature of the loss-of-office payment meant that IPSA withheld payments where it felt that winding-up tasks had not been completed …
International comparisons show that the financial support for outgoing Members of some other parliaments is higher than those made to Members of the UK House of Commons …. . Comparison with other UK legislatures shows that the payments made to Members of the House of Commons on departure are lower than those paid by the Scottish and Welsh parliaments.
The loss-of-office payment should be treated as a redundancy package to support MPs when making their transition from the House to another vocation. Payment should not be contingent upon the completion of the winding-up tasks as this goes against the spirit of the payment and its intended function.
And this is what it says about medals.
The role of a member of parliament-of debating and making laws, scrutinising draft policies and representing and serving constituents-is a noble enterprise and one that should be encouraged and recognised …
The House Service should work with the administration committee and the House of Commons Commission to find, agree and implement a suitable way to mark a member’s departure. This could be an event with family and friends and/or presentation with a medallion of service, with eligibility at the discretion of the commission.
Announcing the report, Sir Charles Walker (Con), the committee chairman, said:
Too often, for the sake of expediency, the front-benches make short-term financial decisions to assuage public anger or concern. However, all political parties, and those MPs serving within them, have a duty to ensure that the house can attract and retain talented people of all different backgrounds from across the UK.
We must recognise that, if the public wants the best individuals to represent them in the House of Commons, it is vital that MPs receive the support they need to do – and leave – their jobs well.
Supreme court dismisses unionist claim Northern Ireland protocol unlawful
The Northern Ireland protocol is lawful, the supreme court has ruled rejecting a protracted legal challenge to the Brexit arrangements by a group of unionist leaders including the former first ministers the late David Trimble and Arlene Foster.
The judges rejected the appeal on all three grounds unanimously, Lord Stephens told the court on Wednesday morning.
Here is the press summary of the judgment. And here it is in full.
Tina Stowell, who started her career as a secretary in the civil service and ended up as a Conservative peer and leader of the House of Lords, says journalists should not dismiss the views of Lee Anderson (a former miner) as “controversial”. Many people agree with him, she says.
Scottish MP Stewart McDonald fears emails hacked by Russia-linked group
The SNP MP Stewart McDonald has spoken about his emails being hacked, because he fears they were stolen by a group linked to Russia and will be published. My colleague Emily Dugan has the story here.
Sunak says UK will start training Ukrainian pilots to fly Nato-standard jets
Here is our story about Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, visiting London today.
And this is what No 10 has said about the UK now offering to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the sort of fighter jets used by Britain and other Nato countries.
As part of today’s talks, the prime minister will offer to bolster the UK’s training offer for Ukrainian troops, including expanding it to fighter jet pilots to ensure Ukraine can defend its skies well into the future.
The training will ensure pilots are able to fly sophisticated Nato-standard fighter jets in the future. As part of that long-term capability investment, the UK will work with Ukraine and international allies to coordinate collective support to meet Ukraine’s defensive needs.
He will also offer to begin an immediate training programme for marines.
And here is a statement from Rishi Sunak.
President Zelenskiy’s visit to the UK is a testament to his country’s courage, determination and fight, and a testament to the unbreakable friendship between our two countries.
Since 2014, the UK has provided vital training to Ukrainian forces, allowing them to defend their country, protect their sovereignty and fight for their territory.
I am proud that today we will expand that training from soldiers to marines and fighter jet pilots, ensuring Ukraine has a military able to defend its interests well into the future. It also underlines our commitment to not just provide military equipment for the short term, but a long-term pledge to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine for years to come.
Last year Nato countries were nervous about supplying Ukraine with fighter jets because they were worried this would be seen as an escalation by Russia. Over time the debate has shifted, and recently No 10 has been arguing that there would be no point supplying Ukraine with planes such as the UK’s Typhoon because it would take too long to train pilots to fly them. Now that training is on offer, the argument against supplying jets is weakening.
This is a victory of sorts for Boris Johnson, who has been arguing that Ukrainian pilots would quickly learn to fly Nato planes if they had them.
New Tory chair says Lee Anderson will be 'fantastic asset' as deputy – but declines to defend his past comments
Good morning. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, is visiting London today to meet Rishi Sunak and give a speech in parliament. In a significant announcement, No 10 has also said the UK will start training Ukrainian pilots to fly the jets used by Britain and other western countries. My colleague Geneva Abdul has more details on our Ukraine live blog.
In other news, Greg Hands, the new Conservative party chair, has been doing a media round. There have been two lines of note.
Hands described Lee Anderson, the controversial new Tory deputy chair, as a “fantastic asset” – but declined to defend some of his past remarks. Asked if he agreed with Anderson that nurses were only having to use food banks because they could not budget, Hands said: “I’m not gonna give a running commentary on things that may have been said in the past.”
Rishi Sunak will probably use a similar line at PMQs if, as seems likely, he gets asked to defend some of the shockers from Anderson’s back catalogue.
Hands implied the next election will take place next autumn. In an email to Tory supporters send last night, Hands said:
The next 18 months will see us win or lose the next general election.
In an interview with LBC this morning, Hands said he could not see circumstances where the election would be held this year. And, although it could be delayed until January 2025, he said a January election would be “unlikely”. People would not welcome an election campaign over Christmas, he said. When it was put to him that that meant the election was likely in about 18 months, he said the “strong expectation” was that it would be in 2024.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.45am: The supreme court issues its judgment on a legal challenge arguing that the Northern Ireland protocol is illegal.
Morning: Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, meets Rishi Sunak in Downing Street.
12pm: Rishi Sunak faces Keir Starmer at PMQs.
After 12.30pm: The government is publishing the Shawcross review into the Prevent programme.
Afternoon: President Zelenskiy addresses parliament.
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