- Tory leadership candidates will need support from 20 fellow MPs to be included in the first round of voting, with nominations opening and closing tomorrow. The first ballot is on Wednesday, with candidates needing 30 votes from Tory MPs, and the second ballot is on Thursday.
- The winner of the leadership contest will be announced on 5 September
- ConservativeHome polling has found that Penny Mordaunt is in first place among Tory members to be the next PM, followed by Kemi Badenoch.
- Education unions have written to the newly appointed education minister, Andrea Jenkyns, warning that her use of an obscene gesture and her excuses since would be unacceptable from a pupil or member of staff.
- The Conservative MP Jamie Wallis has been disqualified from driving for six months and fined £2,500 after being found guilty of failing to stop, failing to report an accident and leaving the vehicle in a dangerous position, after crashing his car and fleeing the scene.
When asked whether the threshold is too high for lesser-known candidates to reach, Sir Graham Brady denied that this is the case.
He added: “We do need to make sure there’s a decent period of time before the result is announced on September 5. We need to make sure there’s a reasonable chance for the party and the country to meet and question the candidates at regional candidates.”
Tom Tugendhat now claims to now have 20 endorsements from MPs supporting his bid to become leader.
Tory leadership rules announced
Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, has announced the rules for the Conservative leadership contest.
- Nominations will open and close tomorrow.
- First ballot on Wednesday.
- Second ballot on Thursday.
- 20 supporters will be needed for each candidate.
- On the first ballot, any candidate to proceed must win 30 votes from Tory MPs.
- The winner will be announced on 5 September.
More from Aubrey Allegretti on the rumours of the threshold being 20...
The Telegraph reports that Suella Braverman, a Conservative leadership hopeful, has told her fellow Tory MPs “don’t vote for me because I’m brown” but because of her clear vision to cut taxes.
The Telegraph’s Christopher Hope reports:
The Attorney General also set out her vision as prime minister at a meeting of the reconstituted Conservative Way Forward, a Thatcherite thinktank.
Speaking alongside fellow Conservative leadership rival Nadhim Zahawi at the Churchill War Rooms, Ms Braverman made her pitch to 60 Tory activists and rightwing Conservative MPs.
She said: “Don’t vote for me because I’m a woman. Don’t vote for me because I’m brown.
“Vote for me because I love this country and would do anything for it.
“Vote for me because I have a clear vision and have experience working at the top of Government. But most of all, vote for me because I’m a Conservative.”
Jessica Elgot has written an analysis of the lengths some Tory leadership hopefuls are going to in order to smear their rivals.
The propaganda flying around includes lurid rumours of affairs, business dealings and questionable tax statuses. Not all would meet the public interest test. Those who have faced planted attacks so far include the chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, but there are also expected to be coordinated efforts to undermine the campaigns of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.
The ipaper’s Paul Waugh also saying that 20 Conservative MPs will be the threshold for appearing on the ballot.
New Conservative Home polling has found that Penny Mordaunt is in first place among Tory members to be the next PM, followed by Kemi Badenoch.
Rishi Sunak is in third place, Suella Braverman fourth, Liz Truss fifth and Tom Tugendhat sixth
Sally Weale reports that education unions have written to the newly appointed education minister, Andrea Jenkyns, warning that her use of an obscene gesture and her excuses since would be unacceptable from a pupil or member of staff.
Jenkyns, Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood, was widely criticised after she was pictured raising her middle finger at a crowd gathered at the entrance to Downing Street on the day of Boris Johnson’s announcement that he was to step down as prime minister.
In a subsequent statement, Jenkyns said she had received “huge amounts of abuse” and seven death threats in the past four years and was just standing up for herself. She added: “I should have shown more composure, but am only human.”
The joint letter from Unison, the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers and the National Education Union, published on Monday, expressed grave concern at her actions and its likely impact on standards in schools.
1922 Committee to announce leadership contest rules
The Guardian’s Aubrey Allegretti has heard that 20 has been agreed as the minimum threshold for hopeful Conservative leadership candidates to appear on the ballot.
The first round of votes is due to commence on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in politics, Conservative MP Jamie Wallis has been disqualified from driving for six months and fined £2,500 after being found guilty of failing to stop, failing to report an accident and leaving the vehicle in a dangerous position, after crashing their car and fleeing the scene.
Steve Morris’ full report:
Conservative MP Steve Baker warned cabinet minister Jacob Rees-Mogg against standing in the Tory leadership contest, warning he would fail to win a general election.
The campaign manager for Attorney General Suella Braverman told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “There’s a danger of fragmentation.
“Kemi Badenoch has decided to stand, I’m afraid as much fond as I am of Kemi, it’s a bit improbable.
“She hasn’t been in the Cabinet; Suella has been in the Cabinet and without Cabinet experience it’s difficult to see that somebody – while we’re in power – should become prime minister.
“There is a grave danger of fragmentation, Priti (Patel, the Home Secretary) is standing, Jacob is apparently standing.
“We’ll see whether he actually does. I love Jacob like a brother but he wouldn’t win a general election, I’m quite sure, so I hope to dissuade him, amongst others. It’s a nonsense to have candidates standing all over the place.”
Guardian political reporter Aubrey Allegretti has been told that the 1922 committee has “unanimously” agreed the rules for the leadership contest.
The threshold for the number of supporters a candidate needs to appear on the ballot will apparently be “lower than expected”.
In an interview with ITV news, when asked whether he felt guilty for resigning as health secretary in the lead-up to Boris Johnson’s resignation, Sajid Javid has said:
“I felt that I had to do the right thing, what my conscience dictates.
“That’s why I made the decision. I wasn’t thinking about what this particularly means for the prime minister.”
The Mirror’s Pippa Crerar is reporting that Priti Patel told the European Research Group (ERG) that she is the “best placed” Brexiteer candidate to win a general election.
Steve Baker warns of risk of pro-Brexit vote being split in Tory leadership contest
Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister and former European Research Group chair who is running Suella Braverman’s campaign for the Tory leadership (she is a former ERG chair too), told Radio 4’s PM programme that it would be a mistake for Jacob Rees-Mogg (also a former ERG chair) to stand too. He said there was a danger of the Brexiter vote being split. He said:
There’s a danger of fragmentation. Kemi Badenoch has decided to stand, I’m afraid as much fond as I am of Kemi, it’s a bit improbable. She hasn’t been in the cabinet; Suella has been in the cabinet and without cabinet experience it’s difficult to see that somebody - while we’re in power - should become prime minister.
There is a grave danger of fragmentation, Priti [Patel, the home secretary] is standing, Jacob is apparently standing.
We’ll see whether he actually does. I love Jacob like a brother but he wouldn’t win a general election, I’m quite sure, so I hope to dissuade him, amongst others. It’s a nonsense to have candidates standing all over the place.
That is all from me for today. My colleague Tobi Thomas is taking over now.
1922 Committee declares results of election to its executive
The results of the election to the Conservative 1922 Commmittee are out. These MPs have been elected to the committee:
- Aaron Bell
- Miriam Cates
- Jo Gideon
- Richard Graham
- Chris Green
- Robert Halfon
- Sally-Ann Hart
- Andrew Jones
- Tom Randall
- David Simmonds
- John Stevenson
- Martin Vickers
And Nusrat Ghani and William Wragg have been re-elected as vice-chairs.
The Times’ Henry Zeffman has posted these on the results.
Former ministers who resigned from Boris Johnson’s government and will now receive a payout should “look themselves in the mirror” and ask if constituents would want them to take the money, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, Fleur Anderson, said.
In a Commons urgent question on the payments worth the equivalent of three months’ pay given to cabinet ministers who resign, Anderson said:
Thousands of pounds of [taxpayers’ money] will be handed out to former ministers. By my reckoning, a quarter-of-a-million pounds in severance paid for those ministers who haven’t been reinstated.
Five former secretaries of state will receive over £16,000 each, including the former secretary of state for education (Michelle Donelan), who was in post for 36 hours, and is due to receive close to the annual starting salary for a teaching assistant.
The unprecedented wave of resignations, the avalanche of abdications, makes this a unique case. The vast majority were not sackings or forced resignations: their departures were caused entirely by a discredited prime minister clinging to office and a Conservative party unwilling to deal with it.
Now our constituents are forced to foot the bill, paying for this government’s chaos yet again.
In response, Heather Wheeler, the Cabinet Office minister, said these payments were a statutory entitlement and that when Labour was in office ministers who left office received a total of £1m. She said it was up to ministers to decide whether or not they took the money.
Kemi Badenoch says she cannot support online safety bill in its current form because of its impact on free speech
While most Tory leadership candidates have focused on tax cuts, Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, is stressing her commitment to freedom, and freedom of speech, in her campaign interventions.
In an article for the Times on Saturday announcing her candidate she said:
We need the discipline to transform government into an effective and streamlined machine for delivery, not a piggy bank for pressure groups. Rather than legislate for hurt feelings as we risk doing with the online safety bill, we must strengthen our democratic culture at a time when democratic values are under assault from without and within. We need to reinvigorate the case for free speech, free markets and the institutions that defend a free people because our values and our ideas are too precious not to fight for with all our heart.
One of my heroes is the American thinker Thomas Sowell, who said that “if you want to help people, tell them the truth; if you want to help yourself, tell them what they want to hear”.
Today, in a speech to campaigners in the House of Lords, Badenoch went further, saying she would refuse to support the online safety bill in its current form because it had “serious implications for free speech”. The bill is back in the Commons for its report stage tomorrow and, in normal circumstances, if Badenoch were not willing to vote for it, she would be expected to resign from government. But we’re in a strange interregnum at the moment, where ministers seem free to denounce government policy, and so presumably she won’t be quitting.
In her speech, Badenoch also insisted the threat to free speech was real. She said:
The facts are crystal clear.
Firstly on the climate of opinion, particularly in universities. A couple of weeks ago, a national survey of students revealed that 61% wanted restrictions on free speech, up from 37% six years ago. Only 17% believed in unlimited free speech. Free speech is no longer something we can take for granted as a commonly shared value.
This shift in attitudes has had dramatic real world effects. We know from the excellent work of organisations like the Free Speech Union and Index on Censorship that there have been many instances in universities of events disrupted and closed down or speakers being disinvited because their views are seen as too controversial.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, will stand as a leadership candidate if she gets the backing of the pro-Brexit European Reseach Group, the Sun’s Kate Ferguson reports.
Sajid Javid's launch - snap verdict
This is effectively Sajid Javid’s third Conservative leadership contest. In 2016 he ran on a joint ticket with Stephen Crabb, as Crabb’s candidate for chancellor. And in 2019 he eventually came fourth, after other candidates dropped out, from a starting field of 10. On the basis of what we’ve seen so far, and what happened at the launch event, he will struggle to match his performance from three years ago.
Javid’s opening speech was too long and rather bland. In a crowded field, candidates need one defining selling point. Javid started the avalanche of ministerial resignations that led to Johnson’s resignation last week, but with Rishi Sunak resigning only about 10 minutes later, his first mover advantage did not last long. In his speech and Q&A he also stressed his experience, but there are two other chancellors in the field (one former, one current), two foreign secretaries (one former, one current), and there might be another home secretary too (the current one – Javid is a former one), and so his long ministerial CV does not count for as much as he thinks it does.
To his credit, Javid has published an economic plan with ideas for an emergency budget (cutting fuel duty by 10p in the litre, a £5bn package on energy bills), further proposals for tax cuts (abandoning the health and social care levy, cutting income tax to 19p in the pound from next year, and scrapping the planned rise in corporation tax) and an attempt to cost all of this (£31.6bn from “fiscal headroom”, and £8-10bn from efficiency savings). But most other candidates are saying things that are similar, and Javid was not persuasive when asked to explain why he defended for so long the national insurance hike he now wants to scrap.
Javid also sounded a bit shifty in the Q&A when asked about his tax record as a banker. (See 4.14pm.) But the line that best explained his plight was the one in his opening speech when he said he was not going to speak about being the son of a bus driver. Three years ago he was the only non-white candidate in the contest, and almost the only one with a working-class upbringing too, and he stood out. This time the field is more diverse than it has ever been in a leadership contest for a major UK party, and his life story sounds like old news. It feels like his moment has passed.
Javid says that he thinks reversing the planned corporation tax increase would not cost as much as people claim. Even if it did, cutting corporation tax would be a good way of showing Britain was open for business, he says.
That’s it. The Q&A is finished.
Javid suggests Cameron was best of three prime ministers he worked for at getting things done
Javid says he has worked for three prime ministers. He says there are lessons to learn from how David Cameron did the job. He suggests the relationship beween the PM and the chancellor worked best then. And he suggests that Cameron was the best of the three in terms of things like how meetings were run. Factors like this matter, he says. Getting the basics right is essential for the functioning of government, he says.
Javid dodges questions about where he was domiciled for tax as non-dom, and whether he used tax havens
Q: Where were you domiciled for tax purposes when you were a non-dom? And have you ever made use of tax havens?
Javid says he has been transparent and open about this. When he worked as a banker, he lived and worked abroad. He had a tax adviser. The test was to make sure that what he did was correct and proper and within all the rules. He has never had an issue with HMRC, and never had an issue with the tax authorities.
Q: Where have you been domiciled for tax purposes?
Javid says before he became an MP he worked abroad in various countries. He says he does not want to get into any more detail about his tax affairs then because he was not in public life at that point.
Javid says he thinks government can be more creative about where new homes can be built. He says he backs the use of development corporations.
In cities, we can build more upwards too, he says.
Q: You are standing as a low tax candidate. But so is everyone else. What sets you apart?
Javid says he stands for integrity. And experience counts too, he says. He says he does not think there has been a candidate before with such broad experience (he has been chancellor and home secretary, as well as health secretary, business secretary and communities secretary).
He also claims to have set out more detail on policy than any other candidate.
Q: In April you said the national insurance rise was right and fair. How can people trust you if you now say it is wrong?
Javid says the circumstances have changed, in terms of the amount of revenue coming into the Treasury.
Q: Did you attend any undisclosed meetings with Uber lobbyists?
Javid says he has not read the reports on this today. He thinks this covers the period when he was business secretary. He is not aware of any meetings he had with Uber that were not registered in the normal way.
Javid says perhaps he should have resigned from cabinet in opposition to Johnson earlier
Javid is now taking questions.
Q: You sat in cabinet as health secretary signing of economic policies you did not agree with. Doesn’t that make you a continuity candidate? And doesn’t your platform amount to being like Boris Johnson, but with integrity?
Javid says he thought of leaving the cabinet earlier. He gave Johnson the benefit of the doubt.
Perhaps I should have left earlier. But I didn’t see anyone else leave any earlier than me.
(That is not quite right; Oliver Dowden resigned from cabinet before Javid.)
He says the questioner, Beth Rigby, was referring to the national insurance tax hike. He says he needed that money for health. It was for the Treasury to decide how to raise the money.
He says that tax rise is not needed now because the Treasury has more money than expected coming in.
Javid says he will fight a clean campaign.
And he says he would appoint the best talent to his cabinet. Great prime ministers, like great leader, surround themselves with people smarter than them.
No one is the full package. I know I’m not. But if we can get back to seeing this job as the first among equals, we can transition from a team of rivals to an unrivalled team.
Javid says he is publishing an economic plan. It will be on his website, he says.
The most important challenge for the government is to grow the economy.
Some people says you cannot have tax cuts until you have growth, he says. But he says it is tax cuts that drive growth.
Skills and social mobility are also at the heart of his plan, he says.
Javid says this has been the proudest year of his career.
He served the prime minister in the national interest until he felt he could do so no longer. Then he told him about it.
(That is another dig at Sunak, who reportedly did not tell Boris Johnson before he resigned.)
Javid says he is not going to speak about being the son of a bus driver.
They do not have time to obsess about the parlour games of SW1, he says. They must face outwards.
For months the public have been watching events in Downing Street, and they have been dismayed. Politicians must focus on what matters to people.
He says the Tories may have been in power so long they have lost touch with voters. They need to get better at explaining their moral purpose.
Too many people think Labour is fit to govern, he says. And they even think Labour is more likely to cut taxes. That is because they lost faith in the Conservatives.
He says this weekend he will celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary. When he got married, the Tories had just been defeated in the biggest landslide since the war.
He says he recently thought the party was heading for the same oblivion. But three years ago the party won a big majority.
This is a “wake up and smell the coffee moment”.
Sleaze, scandal, internal warfare - we’ve seen this movie before and we know how it ends.
He says this leadership election will be a turning point. He hopes it will be the turning point they need.
He says he does not believe in identity politics. But it should be a source of pride that there are more minority ethnic candidates running for the Tory leadership this time than have ever run for the Labour leadership.
Javid says polling suggests there are only two candidates who are well known to the public, and seen as potential prime ministers.
Sajid Javid launches leadership campaign
Sajid Javid is speaking now at the launch of his leadership campaign.
The former health secretary said he “spoke from the heart” when he resigned last week in protest at Boris Johnson.
He does not have a slick video ready to go, he says (in a clear dig at Rishi Sunak).
From Covid to Windrush, people have turned to him when times are tough, he says.
Those tough times are back. Families are struggling with prices. But politicians have been arguing about sleaze. That has been “catastrophic” for the Conservatives, he says.
He says they need a leader who can be trusted, and who can take tough decisions.
He says, whenever given a job, he “grips” it.
By any conventional measure, Rehman Chishti is easily the least qualified person in the contest to be next Tory leader. Here he is speaking to the BBC and explaining why he is in the contest.
Zahawi says he could cut income tax to 19p in pound next year, and 18p in pound in 2024
Nadhim Zahawi has promised to cut income tax by 2p within two years if he became prime minister and condemned what he called the excessive taxation and spending of the government in which he remains the chancellor.
In another ramping up of what Labour have called an uncosted tax cutting “arms race”, Zahawi told Conservative activists that he would also promise to reduce tax as a percentage of national income every year he was in power.
Speaking an event in Westminster organised by the Thatcherite group Conservative Way Forward (CWF), Zahawi, the former education secretary, who took over at the Treasury after Rishi Sunak resigned last week, seemingly condemned the taxation policies he endorsed while in Johnson’s cabinet.
The work of the CWF, which has produced a charter for lower taxation and a smaller state, which Zahawi has endorsed, was “like the first buds showing on a spring morning after a long winter”, the chancellor said.
It is a sign that finally, after too many years of tax and spending skyrocketing, the political landscape is once again coming back to the sensible policies championed by Margaret Thatcher.
Zahawi, who carried on with his speech even after a woman fainted with a loud crash in a packed and sweaty basement venue in the Churchill War Rooms, said he would cut income tax from 20p to 19p next year, and 18p in 2024.
He added: “Let me be clear: tax as a percentage of GDP will fall year on year if I become prime minister. That is a promise.”
Speaking at the same event the attorney general, Suella Braverman, called for “robust and radical” policies, including to shrink the state, but noted that factors like an ageing population made this complex.
“You can’t cut public services just like that when so many people depend on them,” she said, calling for reforms to public institutions and stronger families and communities.
Labour under Starmer more likely to offer Britain fresh start after election than Tories under new leader, poll suggests
Voters think a Labour government led by Keir Starmer is more likely to offer the country a fresh start after the next election than a Conservative government led by a new leader, polling from Ipsos Mori suggests.
Given that “time for a change” is often the most powerful message available at an election, this put Labour in a strong position.
The polling also shows Labour under Starmer ahead of the Tories under someone new on most measures. But the Conservatives under an as-yet-unidentified Boris Johnson replacement still have a very narrow lead on growing the economy and cutting taxes.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, told the World at One that the Tory leadership contest had become a “festival of irresponsibility”. She explained:
If you’re going to make an announcement about what taxes you’re going to cut, you need to explain where the money is going to come from.
We are now in this sort of festival of irresponsibility from the Conservatives where so far between the 11 of them, they’ve announced £330bn worth of tax cuts.
That’s more than the total NHS budget; where is that money going to come from?
The price tag is going up quickly. Last night Labour said the tax cuts promised by tory leadership candidates were worth more than £200bn.
And Pat McFadden, who as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury is Reeves’ deputy, has criticised Nadhim Zahawi for proposing to cut departmental running costs by 20%. McFadden said:
Nadhim Zahawi is living in fiscal fantasy land. Who is going to deliver these 20% cuts?
Any credible candidate needs to be able to say how much money they would raise and what would be willing to cut. How many police officers, nurses, and teachers are we going to lose? How is he going to deliver this without increasing NHS waiting lists, delays at the passport office, and the number of crimes that go unsolved?
Hour by hour, these Tory leadership candidates are shredding whatever little credibility on managing the public finances and the economy that they had left.
Commons sitting delayed because of water leaking into chamber
Today’s sitting of the House of Commons has been delayed because water has been pouring in through the ceiling of the chamber after a suspected leak, PA Media reports.
Buckets were catching drips around the green benches, with a clean-up operation under way amid efforts to keep the central table dry with protective coverings.
It was unclear what was causing the leak since the weather in Westminster was very warm and dry.
A message on the annunciator monitors in parliament states: “Today’s sitting is delayed due to a water leak in the chamber. Revised sitting time to be announced.”
Police officers could be seen entering the Commons chamber with what appeared to be water-absorbent blankets.
Entry to the chamber was restricted while the issue was being dealt with.
Labour MP Emma Hardy, who briefly walked into the Commons chamber before being turned away, told PA the water leak appears to be “just in front of the dispatch box”.
She said: “I have just walked through and there are a lot of people working, around six or seven. Lots of blankets on the floor and a machine, which I’m not quite sure what is doing. It [the leak] is just in front of the dispatch box, but the roof looks fine.”
And these are from my colleague Peter Walker on Suella Braverman’s speech at the Conservative Way Forward event.
Voting starts in election for new 1922 Committee executive
The first major battle of the Tory leadership contest is under way, as MPs vote on who should decide the rules of the contest. They are queuing up outside the same room where the no-confidence vote in Boris Johnson was held to cast their ballot for 18 members running for the 1922 Committee.
The committee will decide how many backers a leadership candidate needs to make it on to the ballot paper, and the threshold of support needed in each round to try to get the contest over quickly.
Four of the six positions of the senior roles – known as officers – are being uncontested.
But two outspoken Johnson critics, William Wragg and Nusrat Ghani, are being challenged by two of the prime minister’s supporters, Sheryll Murray and Miriam Cates.
It’s a bunfight for the rest of the 12 executive positions – with nearly two dozen candidates standing.
There are also multiple slates, and Johnson critics are feeling optimistic because only backbenchers are allowed to vote, which includes much more of their number after last week’s mass resignations from the government.
The new committee will be announced along with the decision about how the leadership contest should run this evening.
Zahawi promises to cut tax as proportion of GDP every year if he wins Tory leadership
My colleague Peter Walker is at the Conservative Way Forward event taking place this lunchtime. It is in the Churchill War Rooms, which must have seemed like an ideal venue when it was booked (CWF is big on tradition and patriotism), but is not what you would choose for a heatwave. Someone has just fainted, Peter says.
Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister, now runs CWF and he opened the meeting.
There was also a speech from Nadhim Zahawi, the chancellor and leadership candidate. He made two very bold tax promises.
- Zahawi promises to cut tax every year as a proportion of GDP if he becomes Tory leader.
- He says he would cut the basic rate of income tax to 18p in the pound by 2024. In the spring statement Rishi Sunak, Zahawi’s predecessor, said he wanted to cut it to 19p in the pound by 2024. The current basic rate is 20p in the pound.
The Conservatives have tried promising to cut tax as a proportion of GDP before. In a Times column last year, William Hague said he promised this when he was Tory leader – but abandoned it after being persuaded it was a bad idea. He recalled:
Back in the distant days when I was leader of the Conservative party, I had underlined my commitment to lower taxes by issuing a public guarantee that the overall burden of taxation would decline under a Tory government. Subsequently, and rightly, I was persuaded by the then shadow chancellor Michael Portillo and others that this was too much of a hostage to fortune. We could not know all the circumstances we might face, so instead we promised specific tax cuts but left ourselves room for manoeuvre.
Of course, this entire debate was academic, as the one thing that turned out to be really guaranteed was that we could not defeat Tony Blair at the height of his powers. But the experience taught me to be more careful about making promises that could be hard to fulfil.
Here is our story about the Hague U-turn, from 22 years ago (to the day).
Lord Lamont says he fears Tory leadership contest becoming 'Dutch auction' of unfunded tax cuts
Lord Lamont, a Conservative chancellor in the 1990s, has criticised Tory leadership candidates for proposing unfunded tax cuts. Speaking on Radio 4’s World at One, he said:
I’m, I must say, increasingly concerned because I think there is a danger that this leadership election is going to descend into a sort of Dutch auction of tax cuts which are not necessarily affordable, not necessarily rightly timed.
There is a danger at this point when the public finances, the amount we are borrowing, is not in a strong state.
The government have been warned by the OBR, the Office of Budget Responsibility, an independent organisation, that actually debt could spiral upwards from 100% of GDP to eventually double that if we don’t have tight control of our finances.
I’m all in favour of people putting forward tax cuts, if they say where they’re going to find the money.
Echoing what Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said this morning (see 10.19am), Lamont also said tax cuts could be inflationary, or could lead to the Bank of England putting up interest rates. He said:
There’s a real danger if you cut taxes, let’s say cut VAT in order to increase spending, to boost the economy, all you get is a very temporary boost and then you get more inflation.
I don’t suppose many people want to see interest rates above the level of inflation, but if we start giving unfunded, irresponsible tax cuts, the Bank of England will be faced with difficult choices indeed.
Starmer claims he will be 'frank' with Labour about choices it faces, and public service reform requires more than just investment
The full text of Keir Starmer’s speech this morning is now available on the Labour party’s website. Starmer was speaking in Gateshead. (I’m sorry we said early he was in Newcastle, but that was based on what was in the overnight note sent out by Labour.) The best line was briefed out in advance (see 9.36am), but there were other lines in it that were worth hearing. Here is a summary.
- Starmer accused Tory leadership candidates of “nauseating” hypocrisy, saying most of them backed the tax rises they are now opposing. He said:
They backed every one of [Boris Johnson’s] 15 tax rises.
They’re behaving like they’ve just arrived from the moon.
They nodded along and trooped through the voting lobbies to support them.
Now, it turns out they were opposed to them all along. The hypocrisy is nauseating.
- He accuses the Tory leadership candidates who are promising tax cuts (almost all of them) of “fantasy economics”. He said:
The Tory leadership race hasn’t even officially begun yet but the arms race of fantasy economics is well under way.
Over the weekend, the contenders have made more than £200bn worth of unfunded spending commitments. Let that sink in.
That’s more than the annual budget of the NHS, splurged onto the pages of the Sunday papers, without a word on how it’ll be paid for.
This is very similar to the language used by Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, in his campaign video. Sunak suggests that people proposing unfunded tax cuts are offering “comforting fairy tales”. Starmer did not mention Sunak by name in his speech, but the speech could be read as a Labour endorsement of Sunak’s analysis and if that were to damage Sunak’s chances - well, Labour probably would not mind very much. Some of the polling suggests that Sunak is the only Tory candidate would would be more popular than Starmer as a potential PM. This is from polling published by Ipsos Mori published last week.
Starmer also said Labour would say how all of its plans for spending or tax cuts would be funded.
- He said he wanted to be “frank” with Labour about the choices it would face in government. He said:
Politics means tough decisions.
It means being frank with the public.
It doesn’t mean tossing out tens of billions of unfunded spending commitments just to play to the gallery of Tory MPs and members.
But it also means being frank with your own party.
I don’t believe you can achieve a strong economy with just a tired formula of deregulation and tax cuts.
But nor do I believe you can achieve it if all you have is redistribution and public sector investment.
This sort of triangulation - distancing Starmer from what he depicts as typical Conservative and Labour thinking - is very Blairite.
- Starmer said that reforming public services would take more than just investment. He said:
Reforming public services can’t just be a question of investment.
We will also need to think imaginatively – about how technology is expanding the range of what is possible to do, about how we can put people in control of more personalised and responsive services.
This means we have to think differently about the purpose of each of our public services.
This is also rather Blairite. Starmer did not elaborate in any detail, but this is how he tried to explain what he meant.
In health it means finally making good on the promise to prevent illness, not just cure it when it happens.
In education it means not just imparting knowledge, but developing the creativity, resilience, curiosity, and problem-solving abilities of every young person.
In social care it means giving people a better quality of life and paying for it in a way that is genuinely fair.
And in tackling crime, it means developing neighbourhood crime hubs that can prevent crime and build community cohesion rather than reacting when things go wrong.
- He said Labour’s manifesto would focus on economic growth and wealth creation. He said:
Labour will fight the next election on economic growth.
The first line of the first page of our offer will be about wealth creation.
We will show how a Labour economy based on partnership and contribution can make Britain richer.
No 10 fails to deny claim Johnson planning lengthy resignation honours list
Yesterday Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times said Buckingham Palace was concerned about what Boris Johnson might be planning for his resignation honours list. Shipman wrote:
Aides expect Johnson to remain as an MP until at least the next election. Before that, he has the opportunity to reward his allies with a resignation honours list, something that is already causing grave concern in the royal household. The Palace is very anxious about the number of gongs, particularly the number of peerages” - sources suggest Johnson wants to hand out 20 or more. David Cameron ennobled eight in his resignation honours, Theresa May created 13 peers. “They are extremely concerned it is going to be Uncle Tom Cobley and all. There seem to be lots of unsuitable people. The list is going to be pages and pages,” said a source close to the royal household.
A political official in No 10 last week contacted a veteran Tory and asked whether it was possible that Stanley Johnson, the PM’s father, could be given a knighthood on the basis that he was “once an MEP”. The senior Conservative advised against it.
Nigel Adams, whom enemies accuse of persuading Johnson to employ Pincher, a drinking partner of his, has been telling friends he will get a peerage. Nadine Dorries is also expected to go to the Lords and revert to writing novels. Allegra Stratton, who resigned as Johnson’s spokeswoman over partygate, is also tipped for a peerage. A separate list of political peers, due before the summer recess, will include Michael Hintze, the billionaire Tory donor, and Paul Dacre, the former editor of the Daily Mail.
At the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesperson was asked about this report, and he did not deny any of it. Asked about the resignation honours list, he said:
I don’t have an update for you on that definitively. I’ve seen sort of speculation. It is convention - individuals who can be nominated in recognition of their public or political service and prime ministers draw up those sorts of lists, but I don’t know specifically on that at this point.
Asked about reports that Johnson’s list could be long, the official said: “I don’t believe there have been any significant discussions on it at this stage.”
The spokesman also said he was “not aware” of Johnson planning to give his father, Stanley Johnson, a knighthood.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, may decide to stand as a candidate, the Times’ Steven Swinford reports.
In his tweet Swinford is using a narrow definition of the Tory right. On the basis of the pledges we’ve heard so far, almost all candidates are pitching for support from the right. Even Tom Tugendhat, sometimes seen as the most mainstream/centrist/one nation of the candidates in the contest, is calling for tax cuts, backing the Northern Ireland protocol bill and defending deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda - all policies that might loosely be labelled rightwing.
Johnson refuses to say if he feels betrayed by Tory MPs in first TV interview since announcing his resignation
In January year Beth Rigby, Sky News’ political editor, recorded one of the most compelling interviews with Boris Johnson he has given as PM (on Partygate). Today she got the much-anticipated first interview with him since he announced that he was resigning last week (see 12.08pm), but this one won’t be entered for any awards. Not through any fault of Rigby’s, it told us very little.
Johnson said that he would not be endorsing any of the candidates in the Tory leadership contest. This is standard practice for an outgoing leader, and so not very surprising, but good to have on the record. He also said that he did not want to damage anyone’s chances by endorsing them. It might be tempting to see this as a rare admission of his considerable unpopularity with voters, but it would be wiser and more realistic to treat it as a joke.
Beyond that, Johnson refused point blank to discuss how he felt about what happened last week. Asked if it felt like a bereavement, or if he felt betrayed, Johnson just ignored the question and reverted to his message about science investment. As an exercise in message discipline, it was strangely impressive. But whether a therapist would approve is another matter.
Johnson never seems at all interested in, or capable of, introspection. People assume that he will make a fortune from writing his memoirs, but he is going to have to open up a bit more for it to be a good read.
Johnson says he won't endorse any candidate for next Tory leader
Q: Your sister Rachel said on LBC last night that this was like a bereavement for you.
Johnson says his sister is a wonderful journalist.
But he does not say any more about her assessment, and instead he says his job is to continue with the government’s programme.
Q: You talked about the herd instinct in Westminster. Do you feel betrayed?
Johnson says: “I don’t want to say any more about all that.”
There is a contest under way, he says.
There’s a contest under way and it’s happened and I wouldn’t want to damage anybody’s chances by offering my support.
I just have to get on and, in the last few days or weeks of the job, the constitutional function of the prime minister in this situation is to discharge the mandate, to continue to discharge the mandate, and that’s what I’m doing.
He says his “constitutional function” is to carry on fulfilling his mandate.
Q: You must be sorry that you are leaving office.
There is a great, great agenda to be continued, Johnson says.
The government has put some fantastic investments into science, he says.
The government will continue with its levelling up agenda, he says.
Q: You are not backing any of the candidates.
That’s not the job of the prime minister at this stage. The job of the prime minister at this stage is to let the party decide, let them get on with it and to continue delivering on the projects that we were elected to deliver.”
He ends by saying how proud he is to see the Francis Crick Institute at London up and running. He recalls the project starting when he was London mayor.
Q: You are going to go down as one of the shortest serving prime ministers
I’m determined to go on and deliver the mandate that was given to us.
The outcome of the contest will be good, he says.
He says politicians should focus on the people who elect them, not what is happening at Westminster.
Sky News is now broadcasting the clip that Boris Johnson has recorded this morning.
Johnson starts by saying the government is investing £40bn in science. The UK has the best scientists, he says. But companies often do not get the most out of that. The government wants to encourage investment in R&D.
Beth Rigby, Sky News’ political editor, is interviewing Johnson. She says this is his first appearance in public since he announced his resignation last week. She asks how is feeling.
Johnson just repeats his spiel about science. The UK has to match France and Germany and the US for R&D, he says.
Grant Shapps was Conservative party chair ahead of the 2015 general election and, in that capacity, he helped orchestrate David Cameron’s surprise general election win. Some of what happened while he was in charge was disreputable - the party was fined by the Electoral Commission for not complying with the laws on campaign spending, and Shapps resigned from cabinet in late 2015 when it emerged that campaign initiative called Road Trip 2015 that he had championed had been plagued by bullying - but Tory MPs are likely to recall his chairmanship as a success, not a failure, because very few people expected Cameron to win an overall majority.
Tim Shipman from the Sunday Times says Shapps is now making his part of his pitch to MPs.
But not every MP is convinced, Shipman reports.
This sounds like Craig Mackinlay, who was put on trial for election fraud, but found not guilty, after the 2015 campaign.
ITV News has announced that it will host a debate for the Tory leadership candidates on Sunday at 7pm. By that time the field should be narrowed down to a manageable number, like four or five.
Sky News will hold a debate on Monday next week, hosted by Kay Burley.
Boris Johnson has been on a visit this morning. According to PA Media, he said he was “determined” to deliver the mandate he was elected on in 2019 in his final few weeks as prime minister.
Quite what that means is not yet clear. It is hard to imagine how he is going to rustle up 40 new hospitals by the start of September. But we should get the full quotes, and the full clip, soon.
According to Sky News, supporters of Priti Patel, the home secretary, are saying there isa a “strong but not 100% chance” that she will declare herself as a candidate later today.
Starmer says all the Tory candidates making “wild” promises should say how they will fund them: by cuts, or by borrowing, or from the magic money tree?
The Q&A is over.
Q: Have the Tories made the job of winning the next election easier or harder by getting rid of Boris Johnson?
Starmer says he is “glad to see the back of him”.
Britain has had 12 years of stagnation, he says. He says the Tories should call an election.
Q: Should Rishi Sunak be barred from the Tory leadership race because he got a fixed penalty notice?
Starmer says he took the decision to say he would resign if he were fined by Durham police as a matter of principle. He wanted to show that politicians were not all the same.
He says he was not trying to say he had never made a mistake in his life. He has made mistakes, and will do so again.
But he put his career on the line for the principle of being able to show that politicians can be a force for good.
(This is the argument he made in more detail in his statement on Friday.)
Q: Are you too boring to be the next PM?
Starmer says “the only thing that’s boring is opposition - that is what’s boring”.
Keir Starmer has just finished his speech in Newcastle. We previewed the key line earlier. (See 9.36am.) I will post a summary when the full text is available.
He is now taking questions.
Q: Where is the new policy from Labour? Don’t you need to say what you would actually do?
Starmer says his speech set out the Labour policy already in place to promote growth. If the economy had grown over the past 12 years as much as it did when Labour was in power, there would be billions more for public spending.
So a lot of those policies are already in place.
But Britain needs a fresh start, he says - not just a change at the top of the Tory party.
Candidates with fewer than 36 votes likely to be excluded after first round, senior Tory says
A new 1922 Committee executive is being elected today, and its first job, late this afternoon, will be to finalise the arrangements for the parliamentary stage of the Tory leadership contest. That is the part where MPs whittle the candidates down to a shortlist of two.
But the current committee has already been considering this (the new committee will have the same chair, Sir Graham Brady) and Bob Blackman, its joint executive secretary, gave an interview to Sky News this morning setting what is likely to be the process.
- Blackman said that Conservative party members will definitely get a vote because candidates will have to promise not to pull out if they make it onto the final shortlist. In 2016 Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May were the two names on the final shortlist, but Leadsom conceded at that point, and so May became leader without members having a say. This speeded up the contest by several weeks. But it meant that May never had the chance to obtain a mandate from the membership, or explain in more detail what her agenda was. Blackman said promising to contest the final ballot would be “a condition of nomination”.
- He said that candidates would need the support of at least 20 MPs to be allowed onto the ballot paper. To show they have a “broad swathe of support, candidates will need a proposer, a seconder and then 18 “or possibly more supporters” to qualify for the ballot, he said. In 2019 candidates needed the support of just eight MPs to be allowed to contest the first round.
- He said that, after the first ballot, candidates were likely to need at least 36 votes - 10% of the party - for them to stay in the contest. The Tories elect their leader using an exhaustive ballot, which means the candidate with fewest votes drops out each round. But a threshold will apply so that if, as expected, several candidates get little support, they will have to drop out. In the 2019 contest the first round threshold was set at 5% of the parliamentary party (17 MPs). This time it is likely to be double that, Blackman said. He said he did not think a threshold would be needed for later rounds. In 2019 a 10% threshold applied after the second ballot.
- He said voting would probably take place on Wednesday and Thursday this week, and on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. The 1922 Committee was committed to getting it down to two candidates by Thursday next week, he said.
Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank, told the Today programme this morning that the tax cuts being proposed by almost all Tory leadership candidates could be inflationary, or could lead to the Bank of England putting up interest rates. He explained:
Usually when we talk about tax cuts and spending, we’re looking at whether that’s fiscally feasible at the moment, Of course, we’ve got inflation heading up towards 10% or 11% now. When inflation is that high, you don’t normally want to be putting significant additional amounts of money into the economy.
So, if you’re looking at big tax cuts funded by borrowing in the short run, then that might have some small effect in the wrong direction on inflation, or may result in the Bank of England increasing interest rates a little bit further and a little bit faster than they otherwise would have done.
Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is still well ahead of other candidates in terms of public declarations of support from MPs, the Mirror’s Dan Bloom reports.
Round-up of this morning's announcements from Tory leadership campaigns
Several Tory leadership candidates, or their proxies, have been giving interviews, or making announcements, this morning. Here is a round-up of the main developments.
- Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has launched her campaign for the leadership. In an article in Daily Telegraph says she would reverse the national insurance increase that took effect in April. She said:
I would reverse the national insurance increase that came in during April, make sure we keep corporation tax competitive so we can attract business and investment into Britain, and put the Covid debt on a longer-term footing.
She has also launched a campaign video.
Robert Peston, ITV’s political editor, thinks Truss’s plan to refinance the government’s Covid debt is unrealistic.
- Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary who is backing Truss for leader, told the Today programme said “there need to be spending reductions” to fund tax cuts - but refused to say which services should be hit.
- Robert Jenrick, the former communities secretary who is supporting Rishi Sunak’s leadership campaign, defended the fact that Sunak still held a US green card (meaning that he was entitled to work in the US, and expected to eventually settle there) when he became chancellor. Asked about the story, Jenrick said:
With respect to his green card, [Sunak] was someone who lived and worked abroad and in a fairly normal way applied for a green card, and then when he returned to the UK he kept it for a while and then relinquished it, I don’t begrudge him that.
I actually think it’s quite refreshing that we might have a prime minister who’s lived and worked around the world, is extremely knowledgeable about finance and technology, having lived in California and run businesses there, and will be a respected figure on the international stage for the fact that he has those connections and understanding.
- Nadhim Zahawi has said he would force every government department to cut running costs by 20% to fund tax cuts. Zahawi made the comment in an interview with Sky’s Kay Burley. According to the Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith, Zahawi was referring to a cut in staff numbers, not overall departmental funding.
- Zahawai has claimed he is being “smeared” over allegations about his tax affairs. He told Sky News:
I was clearly being smeared. I was told that the Serious Fraud Office, the National Crime Agency, HMRC, were looking into me.
I’m not aware of this. I’ve always declared my taxes - I’ve paid my taxes in the UK.
- Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has released a video saying that he should be PM because he can plan, deliver, communicate, campaign - and help Tory candidates win their seats.
- Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary, has said he wants to “cut all taxes”. He also said half the cost of cutting corporation tax would be recouped by the Treasury because it would stimulate the economy, leading to businesses paying more tax. He told BBC Breakfast:
We need to have a lower tax environment to help businesses get off the ground ... I want to cut all taxes ...
The Treasury’s own numbers say that you’ll get half the money back that you invest in cutting corporation tax because of increased business activity.
- Suella Braverman, the attorney general, has said that, as PM, she would toughen up the Northern Ireland protocol bill. She said:
As prime minister, I would make the changes to the NIP bill that I’ve been arguing for within government, to make it fully compliant with UK sovereignty. That means from day one after the Bill becomes law, the EU would have no more say over VAT and Excise in Northern Ireland and no say in our regulation of medicines. After my changes, UK law - and tax rates - would apply directly.
- Tom Tugenhdat, the chair of the Commons foreign affairs commitee, has said that he would lower taxes across society. He told the Today programme:
I certainly think that we should be looking to lower taxes across every aspect of society.
Tory leadership contest has become ‘arms race of fantasy economics’, says Starmer
Good morning. After Boris Johnson there was an assumption that British politics might become conventional, sensible, predictable – and perhaps boring (not necessarily a bad thing). Perhaps it will eventually, but with the Conservative party leadership contest now now fully under way, we are certainly not at that point yet. For three reasons, it’s all rather surreal.
First, for the third time in six years, the prime minister of the United Kingdom is due to be chosen by around 200,000 Conservative party members (predominantly white men over the age of 60 living in the south of England). That is more akin to what happened before the Great Reform Act of 1832 than what you would expect in a modern democracy.
Second, Conservative MPs produce the shortlist for MPs, and currently the list of candidates includes absolute no-hopers. “Why oh why do these insignificant figures think so much of themselves?” Sir Alan Duncan, the former Foreign Office minister, wrote in his diaries in 2019, when 10 candidates were in the contest. This time round, there are already 11 – of whom the one who declared most recently, Rehman Chishti, is almost a complete unknown.
Both these factors applied last time round, but the third, and relatively new, feature of this contest is that it involves a slew of cabinet ministers campaigning to reverse tax increases that they they voted for and defended while they were sitting in the very cabinet that approved these measures in the first place. Leadership contests always involve debates about changing policy. When Boris Johnson stood in 2019, he called for a new approach to Brexit. But he had resigned from cabinet over the policy that he wanted to overturn. Liz Truss, Sajid Javid, Nadhim Zahawi, Grant Shapps and Suella Braverman are all running on a promise to abandon, or at least consider abandoning, tax increases they used to defend.
(Most ministers stay in office even though they disagree with some government policies, because they take the view that what matters what the government is doing overall. But to suddenly declare that the entire fiscal policy of the cabinet of which you are a member is a mistake is much more unusual.)
Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is giving a speech this morning and he will say the Tory leadership contest has become an “arms race of fantasy economics”. According to extracts released in advance, he will say:
I cannot believe what we are hearing from the candidates to be the next Tory leader. The vast majority of them served in Boris Johnson’s government. They went out every day for months and years to defend his behaviour. They backed every one one of his 15 tax rises. They nodded along and trooped through the voting lobbies to support them. Now, it turns out they were opposed to them all along. The hypocrisy is nauseating ...
Over the weekend, the contenders have made more than £200bn of unfunded spending commitments. Let that sink in. That’s more than the annual budget of the NHS, splurged onto the pages of the Sunday papers, without a word on how it’ll be paid for. I can tell you now – you’ll never get that from me. When I say decency and honesty matter, that means being honest about how we fund every single thing we promise you.
Here is the agenda for the day.
Morning: Boris Johnson is doing a visit in London.
10.30am: Keir Starmer gives a speech in Newcastle.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
1.30pm: Tory leadership candidates Nadhim Zahawi and Suella Braverman are due to speak at a Conservative Way Forward event. Steve Baker, the MP who has relaunched the pressure group, is also due to speak.
3.15pm: Tory leadership candidate Sajid Javid holds a campaign launch event.
After 4pm: The ballot closes in the election of a new Conservative 1922 Committee executive. Once the votes have been counted, Sir Graham Brady, the chair is expected to hold an immediate executive meeting to fix the rules for the parliamentary stage of the leadership contest. After that, at 6.30pm, the Conservative party board is expected to meet to arrangement the timetable for the ballot of party members, who will choose between the two candidates on the final shortlist.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org