A summary of today's developments
- Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat and Nadhim Zahawi have all progressed to the first ballot which will take place tomorrow between 1.30pm and 3.30pm. The result will be announced soon afterwards.
- Sajid Javid, the former health secretary and former home secretary, is out of the contest as he was struggling to get the 20 nominations he needed.
- Rehman Chishti’s campaign for the Conservative leadership is over after being unable to receive any public endorsements from colleagues. Grant Shapps also failed to make it to the first ballot.
- Priti Patel, the home secretary, announced she will not be standing for the Tory leadership. She is not backing any other candidates, but she does not rule out doing so later in the contest.
- The government and Labour are involved in a briefing war about the rights and wrongs of the No 10 decision not to allow a no-confidence debate in the government tomorrow. Labour is accusing Downing Street of “an abuse of power”, but No 10 says it is Labour that is actually abusing the system because it is “playing politics”.
Conservative MP James Sunderland has cast doubt on the commitment of Penny Mordaunt to the UK’s net zero climate target.
Sunderland, a supporter of Mordaunt, told BBC Newsnight: “It is on her radar, it is a very important Government policy at the moment but net zero of course has to be balanced against the immediate priorities affecting British people.
“This is about cost-of-living crisis, this is about money in pockets, and ultimately, Penny will make a decision as to whether we can relinquish those green subsidies, those green taxes, as they’ve been called. But we have to do what is right now for people in the UK.”
He added: “I think it is important that we follow the net zero agenda, we have got very aggressive green policies in this country.
“Nothing is off the table.
“At this current point in time, if the British people are struggling, a pragmatist, a responsible Prime Minister, would look at that particular policy and assess whether or not to waive it.”
Thangam Debbonaire has said Labour is considering all its options amid a row over the tabling of a no confidence vote in Boris Johnson.
Labour had earlier accused the government of “running scared” after it blocked plans by the opposition to stage a Commons no confidence vote in the prime minister and his administration.
The shadow leader of the Commons told BBC Newsnight: “I’m not going to reveal all of our tactics. There’s various other things that we could try and at the moment we’re considering every single one of them.”
She also refused to be drawn on reports that Labour and the SNP are considering applying for an emergency debate, instead accusing the government of running scared.
Debbonaire said: “Why would the government be so chicken as to not to take the motion of no competence? They could do that tomorrow. They still could do that on Thursday, or they could do it next week?”
The front page of Wednesday’s Guardian.
Labour has committed to “ironclad discipline” with the public finances and cutting Britain’s debt burden if it gets into power, in an attempt to draw a clear dividing line with Tory leadership hopefuls promising billions of pounds in tax cuts.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, will use a speech on Wednesday to bind a future Labour government to strict borrowing limits designed to protect the public finances while allowing it to lay the foundations for a growing economy.
As the candidates vying to replace Boris Johnson as prime minister promise tax cuts worth billions of pounds without being clear on how they would be funded, Reeves will argue “the tables have turned” on fiscal credibility.
“Any lingering sense that the Conservatives are the party of economic responsibility has been shredded to pieces over the past few days,” she will say.
Get the full story here: Labour to pledge ‘ironclad discipline’ with public finances
The Scottish secretary Alister Jack has confirmed he will not reveal who he is supporting in the Tory leadership race.
Widely seen as a close ally of Boris Johnson, Jack told BBC’s Reporting Scotland he will not declare who he is backing in the race to succeed the prime minister.
“I’m not going to declare who I am going to be supporting in the race,” Jack said.
Instead, he said he would be speaking to all the candidates about issues facing Scotland.
Anne-Marie Trevelyan has backed Tom Tugendhat’s pledge on defence spending if he wins the leadership race.
Labour and the SNP are considering applying for an emergency debate after an earlier row with the government over a no confidence motion in the government and prime minister, Sky News is reporting.
Here is Labour MP Chris Bryant’s reaction to Matt Vickers being named deputy Tory chair.
The government abandoned its plan to use controversial pushback tactics to turn away migrants in the Channel after trials, MPs have heard.
Armed forces minister James Heappey told the defence committee the Ministry of Defence (MoD) initially recommended against the tactic, which was dropped following the conclusions of Royal Navy experts after trials by the Royal Marines.
The policy would have allowed Border Force patrols to intercept migrant vessels in the Channel and take them back to France.
It was due to be challenged at the high court earlier this year but was dropped just over a week before.
Heappey told the committee the small, often overloaded, craft used are each treated as a “vessel in distress” and escorted back to the UK under mariners’ obligation to save life at sea.
We were asked to explore how those tactics could be used in the Dover straits, and our analysis after a series of trials in Weymouth with various techniques and an analysis of the water and the type of threat that was being faced was that it was inappropriate, and the argument was won.
Government decided not to do that because the evidence provided by professional mariners within the Royal Navy was such to compellingly make the case for not doing it.
The Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey has reacted to reports suggesting that Boris Johnson is blocking Labour’s bid to hold a vote of no confidence.
This sounds more like Donald Trump than a serious British government.
If the rumours are true and Boris Johnson has blocked a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons, this is just more evidence that he is totally unable to lead our country.
Voters will never forgive the Conservative party for propping up Johnson, who is more interested in himself and his legacy than tackling the health crisis and cost of living emergency.
The former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has yet to declare which candidate he will be backing.
However, he told Sky News he was “impressed by pretty much all of those who have come to … hustings which we have just held”.
“This for once wasn’t about Europe, it wasn’t directly about taxation but was about how do you work to improve the quality of life for those who are the poorest in society,” he said.
“It forced candidates to stop the to-and-fro bickering about who will cut taxes and not cut taxes and actually get down to talking about real lives.”
In the race to face Rishi Sunak, it may be Penny Mordaunt who capitalises on the disarray of the right of the Conservative party as it splinters into bitter factions.
The trade minister has an impressively organised campaign that has led to mutterings about how much work she has put into her day job. She has racked up the second-highest number of endorsements after Sunak, dedicating time to one-on-one meetings with MPs rather than the airwaves.
Her allies says she will now step up a gear and show her strengths as a media performer in the coming days. “The more people see of Penny, the more they warm to her, which is a huge advantage,” one said, a remark which may not apply to her rivals.
Read the full piece here: Bitter split in Tory right may boost leadership chances of Penny Mordaunt
Here is the moment Sir Graham Brady confirmed the eight candidates for the Conservative party race.
Here is more from Jeremy Hunt who believes it would be “immoral” to offer personal tax cuts funded from borrowing as he promoted corporate tax cuts.
The MP for South West Surrey told LBC radio he has costed his substantial tax cut pledges, admitting “they are expensive” but arguing he could “do this within the fiscal rule that says that debt has to fall as a proportion of GDP over the period”. “It would be immoral off a personal tax cuts funded from borrowing,” he added. “If you put money in people’s pockets, welcome though it is, you risk stoking inflation, business tax cuts don’t do that”.
Jeremy Hunt has denied speculation that Rishi Sunak’s campaign engineered MPs’ votes to help him clear the first hurdle of the Tory leadership contest.
“We are running completely independent campaigns,” he told LBC radio.
“It’s a very dangerous game to play and so I think most people would be very wary before doing that sort of thing. I’m not saying it never happens.”
Hunt also said he is “worried” Sunak’s economy policy would lead the country “into recession”.
“Rishi Sunak is... increasing corporation tax and it will be higher than not just America or Japan, but France and Germany as well.
“And I’m worried that on our current trajectory, we’re heading into recession, and we’ll be there for too long...
Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell has backed Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, to become Conservative leader.
He told Sky News: “I think that many colleagues believe there are three key criteria that are required to win this campaign. “The first is to be unsullied by the recent Boris times, the second is to be experienced, preferably with a domestic as well as an international department, and the third is to be moral. “I think it’s true to say that many of the candidates hit two of those three criteria, but only Jeremy Hunt hits all three.”
Telford MP Lucy Allan said the report into child sexual exploitation (CSE) in the area, which found that more than 1,000 children were groomed, makes for “devastating reading”.
Allan tweeted: “Telford CSE report: measured, fair, nothing we did not know, but nonetheless makes for devastating reading.
“Thank you to victims, survivors and campaigners who made this happen.”
Nadine Dorries accuses Rishi Sunak's campaign of pulling "dirty tricks"
Nadine Dorries has accused Rishi Sunak of pulling “dirty tricks” after he and Jeremy Hunt made it into the first ballot of MPs in the Tory leadership contest.
Tory leadership candidate Suella Braverman, appearing at the Centre for Social Justice hustings, told the PA news agency she was “honoured” to progress to the next stage of the contest.
She said she was “honoured and excited”, after the 1922 Committee confirmed the candidates who would continue to the next ballot, and was looking forward to the process playing out.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has tweeted to say he is looking forward to the first round of voting in the Tory leadership contest tomorrow.
According to an Opinium poll of Conservative party members, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are the candidates they most want to see on the final ballot. Opinium says:
Asked which two candidates should make it on to the final ballot, 28% of members chose Rishi Sunak, 20% favoured foreign secretary Liz Truss, with Penny Mordant polling at 14%.
Jeremy Hunt came in fourth with 9%, followed by Sajid Javid on 8%, Tom Tugenhat on 7%, with Nadhim Zahawi on 5% as was Suella Braverman.
That’s all from me for today. My colleague Nadeem Badshah is now taking over.
Graham Brady confirms eight candidates in first ballot for Tory leadership
Sir Graham Brady is reading out the names of the candidates who will be in the first ballot. He reads the names in alphabetical order. They are:
Brady says the first round ballot will take place tomorrow between 1.30pm and 3.30pm. The result will be announced soon afterwards, he says.
He does not name the MPs who have not made it, but three MPs said today they would not stand after struggling to get the support of 20 MPs. They are:
1922 Committee chair Graham Brady set to announce names of Tory MPs in first ballot
Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, is due to make an announcement just after 6pm about the candidates who will be on the ballot paper in the first vote tomorrow.
Javid accepts he is out of leadership contest after struggling to get enough nominations
Sajid Javid, the former health secretary and former chancellor, is out of the contest. He was struggling to get the 20 nominations he needed.
He has released this statement.
Serving in government is a true privilege. It has been just seven days since I took the difficult decision to resign from the most important job I have ever had, as health secretary during a pandemic.
Since then, I have set out the values and policies I think are right for the future of our great country. I believe the party must now look outwards, not inwards, if we are to win again.
There is an abundance of both ideas and talent in our party. One of the candidates will be given the honour of becoming prime minister.
I look forward to seeing the debate unfold and to see colleagues working together as a united Conservative party once the leadership election is concluded.
Liz Truss and Tom Tugendhat have both told potential supporters that they will say the treatment of the Uyghur people living in Xinjiang in China amounts to genocide if they become PM, the Sun’s Noa Hoffman reports.
In the Commons several Labour MPs raised points of order to complain about the government’s decision not to allow a no confidence debate tomorrow. (See 4.18pm and 5.08pm). They made the point that in the past motions worded like Labour’s had been treated as bona fide no confidence motions. In response, Nigel Evans, the deputy speaker, stressed that the decision not to allow the debate was the government’s, not the Speaker’s. He told MPs:
Erskine May says: ‘By established convention, the government always accedes to the demand from the leader of the opposition to allot a day for the discussion of a motion tabled by the official opposition which, in the government’s view, would have the effect of testing the confidence of the house.’
I can only conclude therefore that the government has concluded the motion as tabled by the official opposition does not have that effect.
That is a matter, though, for the government rather than the chair.
Evans also said he expected “further discussions” on this matter before the Commons rises for the summer recess next week.
Rehman Chishti abandons campaign for Tory leadership after failing to get backing from colleagues
Rehman Chishti’s unlikely campaign for the Conservative leadership is over, he says. Chishti only became a government minister for the first time last week, and he did not have any public endorsements from colleagues.
Suella Braverman may have jumped the gun when she said she had reached the nomination threshold (see 5.01pm), the Times’s Steven Swinford suggests.
Mordaunt welcomes survey suggesting she would win against any rival in final ballot of members
ConservativeHome has now published the final results from its survey looking at how Conservative party members would vote for all the main candidates in one-to-one contests against all the other candidates. (See 3.05pm.) Penny Mordaunt was the winner, and Kemi Badenoch the second strongest candidate. Mordaunt would beat Badenoch by 46% to 40%, the survey suggests.
Mordaunt has posted about the results on Twitter.
And Kemi Badenoch is on the ballot paper too, according to Newsnight’s Nicholas Watt.
No 10 says it refused Labour's no-confidence debate because anti-PM wording meant Starmer 'playing politics'
The government and Labour are currently involved in a briefing war about the rights and wrongs of the No 10 decision not to allow a no-confidence debate in the government tomorrow. (See 4.18pm.) Labour is accusing Downing Street of “an abuse of power”, but No 10 says it is Labour that is actually abusing the system because it is “playing politics”.
Commons convention says the government is meant to allow time for a no-confidence motion to be debated as soon as possible (normally the following day). The standard motion is: “That this house has no confidence in Her Majesty’s government.”
The Labour motion was slightly different. Reportedly it read: “That this house has no confidence in Her Majesty’s government while the Rt Hon Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip [Boris Johnson] remains prime minister.”
As discussed earlier (see 9.24am), Labour tabled the motion not because it hoped Tory MPs would vote against the government, but because it hoped that would vote for Johnson. It would be useful for Labour to be able to campaign against individual MPs by saying ‘X voted to keep Johnson in Downing Street even after he resigned’.
Labour says its wording was approved by the Commons clerks (who have to decide if a motion is in order). They also say there is precedent for including criticism of the PM in a no-confidence motion. In 1965 MPs voted on a motion saying: “That this house has no confidence in Her Majesty’s government and deplores the prime minister’s conduct of the nation’s affairs.” Harold Wilson was PM at the time, and he won by 13 votes.
But the government says that, since Boris Johnson has already said he is resigning as party leader, debating what would be effectively be a no-confidence motion in him, and not the government, is a waste of time. (In 1965 Wilson had not resigned as party leader.) A government spokesperson said:
We have given Labour the option to table a straightforward vote of no confidence in the government.
They have chosen to play politics by tabling a vote of no confidence in the government and the prime minister. As the prime minister has already resigned and a leadership process is underway we do not feel this is a valuable use of parliamentary time.
Should Labour amend their motion appropriately, they can have the next business day for it to be debated.
The government is focused on delivering parliamentary business that impacts people’s everyday lives while we work through this transition.
Labour could come back and table a straightforward motion of no confidence in the government. But Labour MPs would find it much harder to use that division as evidence that Tory MPs were voting to keep Johnson personally in No 10, and so as an exercise in generating attack ads, it probably would not work.
Nadhim Zahawi is set to make it on to the ballot too, according to his supporters. This is from my colleague Jessica Elgot.
Suella Braverman says she has nominations needed to be on ballot paper, joining at least five others in passing threshold
Suella Braverman has announced that she has got the 20 nominations she needs to be on the ballot paper in the first leadership vote tomorrow. That means there should be at least six names in the contest in the first round. (See 4.30pm.)
At least five Tories now expected on ballot, as Hunt joins Sunak, Truss, Mordaunt and Tugendhat in reaching 20 threshold
Jeremy Hunt has got the 20 nominations he needs to make it onto the ballot paper, Steven Swinford from the Times reports.
That means there should be at least five names on the ballot paper in the first round tomorrow. The others are: Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat and Penny Mordaunt.
Of those five, only Truss would be seen as a proper candidate of the right.
Labour accuses No 10 of 'flagrant abuse of power' after it refuses to allow no confidence debate in government tomorrow
Downing Street is refusing to allow time for a no-confidence vote tomorrow, HuffPost reports.
According to Erskine May, the bible for parliamentary procedure, the government is meant to find time for a debate on a no confidence motion tabled by the official opposition without delay. It says:
From time to time the opposition has put down a motion on the paper expressing lack of confidence in the government or otherwise criticising its general conduct. By established convention, the government always accedes to the demand from the leader of the opposition to allot a day for the discussion of a motion tabled by the official opposition which, in the government’s view, would have the effect of testing the confidence of the house. In allotting a day for this purpose, the government is entitled to have regard to the exigencies of its own business, but a reasonably early day is invariably found.
This convention is founded on the recognised position of the opposition as a potential government, which guarantees the legitimacy of such an interruption of the normal course of business. For its part, the government has everything to gain by meeting such a direct challenge to its authority at the earliest possible moment.
A Labour spokesperson said:
This clapped-out government is running scared and refusing to allow time to debate Labour’s vote of no confidence motion. This is totally unprecedented. Yet again the Tories are changing the rules to protect their own dodgy mates. All the Tory leadership candidates should denounce this flagrant abuse of power to protect a discredited prime minister.
With only two and a half hours to go before nominations close for the Conservative leadership, only four candidates have already got the 20 public endorsements they need: Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Tom Tugendhat. Kemi Badenoch is quite close. But other candidates are struggling. The Guido Fawkes website has a good spreadsheet with the names.
Penny Mordaunt has removed from her campaign video a short clip showing Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered, after concerns were raised by Cox’s family, the Yorkshire Post’s Caitlin Doherty reports.
What will happen when Conservative party members get to choose between the final two candidates on the ballot?
According to an Opinium poll, Rishi Sunak would currently beat both Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt in a straight head-to-head contest. But his lead over Truss is tiny (four points), and his lead over Mordaunt is not much bigger (seven points), and with more than 20% of respondents undecided, in reality both contests would - on these figures - be wide open.
But what if these figure are wrong? The ConservativeHome website conducts its own regular survey for a panel of Conservative party members and today it has also been publishing the results of its own poll on how they would vote in a series of one-to-one contests. These figures suggest that Sunak would lose to Truss and Mordaunt - by 17 points and 27 points respectively. The website still has not published its final results, but the figures available so far suggests the strongest candidates are Penny Mordaunt and Kemi Badenoch.
Is this credible? This is a survey, not a poll (the results are not weighted to make them reflective of the Conservative party membership), and its “don’t know” numbers are much lower than they are in the Opinium poll. That may be because the ConservatieHome panel members are polled regularly, and have been following the contest closely. Many real party members may be less engaged, and this may be why the Opinium poll shows almost a quarter of them having no view yet.
But in the past ConservativeHome surveys have proved to be reasonably reliable guides to the outcome of Tory party elections. And it is engaged members who vote. A Sunak victory in the final round seems far from inevitable.
Of course, what happens in the campaign, and during hustings, can make a difference, although in the last three Tory leadership contests one candidate was the clear favourite when the membership ballot opened (David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson) and that candidate always won. May was such a clear favourite that Andrea Leadsom pulled out before membership hustings event started.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, is likely to end up endorsing Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, according to the Times’ Steven Swinford.
The ERG is the European Research Group - the caucus for Tory MPs who are strongly pro-Brexit.
The former health secretary Matt Hancock is backing Rishi Sunak for next Tory leader.
Priti Patel rules out running for Tory leadership
Priti Patel, the home secretary, has put out a statement saying she will not be standing for the Tory leadership.
She is not backing any other candidates, but she does not rule out doing so later in the contest. She says:
I am grateful for the encouragement and support colleagues and party members have offered me in recent days in suggesting that I enter the contest for the leadership of the Conservative party. I will not be putting my name forward for the ballot of MPs.
As home secretary I have always put the security and safety of our country and the national interest first and my focus is to continue working to get more police on our streets, support our amazing security services to keep our country safe and control our borders
As a lifelong and committed Conservative, I will always make the case for freedom, enterprise and opportunity and work with colleagues to deliver these values in government. Like all Conservative MPs and party members, I will be listening to cases being put forward by the candidates standing for the leadership of the party and trust the contest will be conducted in a good spirit that brings our party together.
Rishi Sunak is racing ahead of other candidates in terms of endorsement, according to Sky’s Tom Larkin, who has been keeping a tally.
Tugendhat promises 'leadership with renewed sense of mission'
The third campaign launch this morning was Tom Tugendhat’s. Here are the main points from his launch.
- Tugendhat said he would offer “leadership with a renewed sense of mission” and a “clean start”.
- He said he would cut fuel tax by 10p a litre, and reverse the national insurance increase. He said:
I am here to make the case that our economy can only prosper if we believe that people - and not Westminster - know best how to spend their money.
I know the pain families are feeling now. That is why my first pledge is to take fuel duty down by 10p a litre.
My second is to reverse the national insurance rise.
This isn’t about percentages. It’s about jobs.
That’s why I didn’t vote for the increase then, and I wouldn’t now.
- He dismissed claims that his lack of ministerial experience was a problem, saying that his record as a soldier showed she could provide leadership. He said:
The reality is that the job of prime minister is unlike every other job in government. It’s not a management job, it’s not a departmental job. It’s a job that demands vision and leadership, it demands a willingness to serve and to throw everything in the duty of serving the British people.
This is no time to learn. What this is, is a time to look at a record of service and a record of delivery in some of the most difficult and trying conditions around the world, and to see that this isn’t learning on the job, this is putting all that experience to work on the job.
- He stressed his commitment to levelling up, saying he wanted to have new institutes of technology in every major town and city in the UK. (Tugendhat was the only leadership candidate to attend the recent conference held by Tory Northern Research Group of MPs and its chair, Jake Berry, is one of his backers.)
- He claimed that he had a 10-year strategy for growth.
- He said that he wanted to release £100bn in investment funds for “regenerating our communities and building homes” by taking advantage of the UK’s ability to diverge from the EU’s solvency II regulations for insurers.
Truss 'a stronger Brexiteer' than me and Rees-Mogg, claims Dorries
This is what Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, said when she declared earlier that she was backing Liz Truss for Tory leader. (See 10.58am.) She said:
I have sat with Liz in cabinet now for some time. [I’m] very aware that she’s probably a stronger Brexiteer than the both of us.
She has consistently argued for low tax policies and I’m particularly concerned about the 14m people who voted for a manifesto and voted for a government that the candidate that we select, for me it’s Liz who I’m going to back, will continue with those manifesto policies and will continue to deliver for the government and the Conservative party moving forward.
Keir Starmer has said Labour is tabling a no-confidence motion in the government for debate tomorrow so that Tory MPs can put the country first. He said:
The Tory party has at last concluded that the prime minister is unfit for office - that was blindingly obvious a very, very long time ago.
They can’t now let him cling on for weeks, and weeks, and weeks, until 5 September. It would be intolerable for the country ...
We’re challenging [Tory MPs] to put their constituents first, and put the country first.
Cabinet ministers and other Tories are to blame for letting Johnson undermine standards in public life, says John Major
Sir John Major, the former Conservative prime minister, has said that cabinet ministers and other senior Tory MPs should have spoken about about the damage that Boris Johnson was doing to standards in government.
Giving evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee, he said Johnson’s government committed many ethical breaches. He said:
The government has broken the law, unlawfully tried to prorogue parliament, ignored the nationwide lockdown by breaking its own laws in Downing Street and tried to change parliamentary rules to protect one of their own.
That isn’t intended to be an exclusive list and it isn’t, but the damage from that is widespread and beyond parliament.
And Johnson was not single-handedly to blame, Major said:
What has been done in the last three years has damaged our country at home and overseas and I think has damaged the reputation of parliament as well.
The blame for these lapses must lie principally - principally, but not only - with the prime minister, but many in his cabinet are culpable too and so are those outside the cabinet who cheered him on.
They were silent when they should have spoken out and then spoke out only when their silence became self-damaging.
Badenoch says state should be smaller and do less, instead of pandering to 'every campaigner with moving message'
Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, is one of the more junior figures in the Conservative leadership contest, but she is probably the one with most appeal to ideological rightwingers. Reading the speech she gave at her campaign launch, which was at the same time as Rishi Sunak’s, it is not hard to see why. Here are the main points.
- Badenoch called for a smaller state, saying government should do less. She said:
The truth that limited government - doing less but better - is the best way to restore faith in government has been forgotten, as we pandered to pressure groups and caved in to every campaigner with a moving message
That has made the government agenda into a shopping list of disconnected, unworkable and unsustainable policies.
- She cited cutting the number of young people going to university, cutting support staff and extra-curricular activities in schools and stopping the police from investigating hate crime online as examples of how the state could save money. She said:
We are now taxing and spending more on government than we have ever done and yet people’s satisfaction with the quality of their day-to-day services is falling. This is not sustainable.
We can’t carry on subsidising so many young people onto university courses which leave them with debts and diminished job prospects.
We must require schools to concentrate on effective whole-class teaching of rigorous subjects rather than allocating tight resources to superfluous support staff and peripheral activities.
We should get the police to focus on neighbourhood crime not waste time and resources worrying about hurt feelings online.
- She said cutting the size of the state was the only reliable way to cut taxes.
- She implicitly attacked Boris Johnson, saying politicians should be honest about the “tough choices” government faces. She said:
For too long, politicians have been telling us that we can have it all.
That you can have your cake and eat it.
And I’m here to tell you that t isis’t true.
It never has been. There are always tough choices. In life and in politics.
Of course Johnson is famous for saying (only half-jokingly) his philosophy through life has been to have his cake and eat it.
- She said she was opposed to “protectionism, populism and polarisation”. She said:
Free markets, limited government, a strong nation state - those are the Conservative principles we need to beat back protectionism, populism and polarisation.
She did not mention the fact Boris Johnson’s premiership championed populism and polarisation, and at times protectionism too.
- She criticised what she described as “the Ben & Jerry’s tendency”, which she described as “those who say a business’s main priority is social justice not productivity and profit”.
- She criticised the next zero target, claiming it was not well planned. She said:
[There are] too many policies, like the net zero target, set up with no thought to the effect on industries in the poorer parts of this country.
The consequence is simply to displace emissions to other countries: unilateral economic disarmament.
- She said Britain had had a “poor decade for living standards”. She said:
We have had a poor decade for living standards.
We have overburdened our economy.
There’s too much unproductive public spending, consuming taxpayers hard earned money.
Too many well-meaning regulations, slowing growth, and clogging up the arteries of the economy.
- She said her views where shaped by her upbringing in Nigeria. She said:
I grew up in Nigeria and saw first-hand what happens when politicians are in it for themselves, when they use public money as their private piggy banks, when they promise the earth and pollute not just the air but the whole political atmosphere with their failure to serve others.
I saw what socialism means. For millions. Poverty…… and broken dreams.
I came to Britain determined to make my way in a country where hard work and honest endeavour can take you anywhere.
What Badenoch did not explain, though, was how this was relevant to her belief that big government is a mistake. While there may be many reasons for Nigeria’s problems, they are not caused by the country having too much government. Government spending there was 12.1% of GDP in 2020, according to this data. The equivalent figure for the UK was 50.3%.
- She continually stressed her commitment to telling the truth. She used the word seven times in her speech, while promising honesty, or to be honest, five times.
Andy Street, the Conservative mayor of the West Midlands, is backing Jeremy Hunt for Conservative leader.
Street is not an MP, and so he will not get a vote in the contest until the ballot among members. But, as a prominent Tory elected mayor, his endorsement is helpful to Hunt.
David Davis, the former Brexit minister, is backing Penny Mordaunt for leader, he has told Sky News.
UPDATE: Davis said:
We need high integrity, we can’t afford any more scandals after the last two years. She’s a woman of incredible integrity.
But, most of all, she’s got a vision for Britain, she’s a patriot, she knows what she wants to put across, she knows what sort of Conservatism she stands for.
As a result, she’s popular in Scotland, she’s popular in red wall seats, she’s popular with the younger voters and, actually, she’s the person who’s most likely within the party to actually beat Rishi Sunak.
Rishi Sunak's launch - snap verdict
Rishi Sunak has always been an exceptionally polished - he thinks carefully about what he is going to say, he plans ahead, he puts a lot of weight on quality presentation - and if this leadership contest gets decided by political professionalism, he will win by a mile. His launch video released last week was pitch perfect. And this launch ran very smoothly too. He opened with a new, high-grade endorsement, and delivered a speech with some substance.
Sunak’s pitch is that he is the most serious and experienced candidate in the field. Or “grown up”, as he put it. By my count he called for a “grown-up conversation” three times, clearly implying that is not what MPs, party members or the public are getting from rival candidates. This is a plausible message that is certain to land well with the commentariat (see 9.47am), and probably with the public at large too.
The speech also included two other lines designed to fine-tune his appeal to party members. Sensitive to the charge that he was disloyal to Boris Johnson, Sunak included a lengthy passage paying tribute to him. (See 11.13am.) At one point he claimed that he would refuse to trash Johnson’s reputation even if that cost him the leadership - despite the fact he must be calculating that not antagonising Johnson loyalists is more likely to help his chances in a ballot of party members than hinder them.
Sunak also clarified his stance on tax cuts - saying that he is committed to bringing down the tax burden, just not yet. (See 11.19am.) This is the position he took in his spring statement too - it’s an honest description of what he thinks, not a U-turn - but the emphasis is different from what we heard last week. Again, this feels like a tweak that brings Sunak closer to the centre of gravity in the party.
But it could be that this micro-positioning is too clever by half. Last week Sunak seemed to be running as the fresh start candidate (against Liz Truss, who represents continuity Johnson). But Sunak also seems to be the only candidate in the field who currently supports the government’s current tax policy. This creates the risk that, overall, his position might just be a bit too ambiguous.
And, often to win a leadership contest, a candidate has go out and fight for it. If Sunak really believes that his opponents are peddling nonsense, at some point he is going to have to say so with a bit more grit than he managed today. His reluctance to take questions from the press (he wanted to wrap up after just three questions) did not bode well either.
Shapps pulls out of Tory leadership contest and backs Sunak, saying he has 'competence and experience' to be PM
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, has pulled out of the Tory leaderhip candidate and endorsed Rishi Sunak.
Sunak tries to wrap up. The journalists protest. Sunak agrees to another question.
Q: Dominic Cummings has been campaigning to make you PM. Are you grateful fo his support, and will you give him a job in No 10.
Sunak says Cummings has had nothing to do with this campaign, and will have nothing to do with any government he leads. He has not communicated with him since Cummings left No 10.
Q: Why have you blocked attempts to raise defence spending?
Sunak says he views the 2% of GDP target as a floor, not a ceiling.
And defence spending is already set to rise, he says.
But he says defence spending should not be determined by arbitrary targets. It should be based on the nature of the threats the country faces, he says.
That’s it. Sunak has now left.
Q: The party has just ousted Boris Johnson on the basis of probity and conduct. You have a police fine too. And there are questions about your family avoiding millions of pounds in tax. And in the party you are seen as a corrosive figure. You are not a clean start, are you?
Sunak says he has support from all wings of the party. That is why he thinks he can bring the country together.
Q: But Labour will be able to use issues like your green card, and your wife’s non-dom status against you.
Sunak says these issues are all out there. He addressed them, and so did his wife. People expect high standards in public office. That is what he will provide.
Q: Why did you decide it wasn’t working with Boris Johnson?
Sunak says he explained that in his resignation letter. It was a difficult and sad decision. He had worked closely with Johnson for two and a half years.
All politicians are flawed, he says. His job is to talk about what he can offer the country.
He is proud to have been part of the government that did all those things, he says.
Sunak is now taking questions.
Q: Your colleagues are trying to demolish your record as chancellor. Do you have the stomach for the fight ahead?
Sunak says he is surrounded by friends and colleagues. He has respect for his colleagues. When this is over, the party must reunite. They are all part of the Conservative family, he says.
'It's question of when, not if' - Sunak promises to get tax burden down
Turning to the economy, Sunak goes on:
We need to have a grown-up conversation about the central policy question that all candidates have to answer in this election. Do you have a credible plan to protect our economy and get it growing?
My message to the party and the country is simple. I have a plan to steer our economy through these headwinds. We need a return to traditional conservative economic values. And that means honesty and responsibility, not fairy tales.
It is not credible to promise lots more spending and lower taxes.
Sunak says he had to take the most difficult choices as chancellor. He goes on:
Once we have gripped inflation, I will get the tax burden down. It is a question of when not if.
He ends by saying a better future is not given, it is earned. That is why he is standing.
Sunak says he will not engage in negative campaigning.
He says his values are clear - “hard work, patriotism, fairness, a love of family, pragmatism, but also an unshakable belief that we can build a better future.”
He says it is unacceptable that women and girls do not enjoy the same freedom as men.
He will prioritise funding for the armed services, he says.
Sunak pays tribute to Johnson, saying he's 'remarkable' and 'has a good heart'
Sunak says he wants to talk about Boris Johnson. They need to explain why he is leaving office.
Johnson is one of the most remarkable people I have every met and, whatever some commentators may say, he has a good heart.
Sunak says he is flawed. “And so are the rest of us.”
He says he resigned because it was “no longer working”. But he goes on:
But let me be clear. I will have no part in a rewriting of history that seeks to demonise Boris, exaggerate his faults or deny his efforts.
Sunak pays tribute to Johnson’s achievements, “breaking the Brexit deadlock, winning a stunning election victory, rolling out a world class vaccination programme and standing up for a free Ukraine when other leaders were still wringing their hands”. He goes on:
Some people might advise that I should avoid saying all of this in case it alienates people. But that wouldn’t be honest. If telling you what I think - positive and negative - costs me the leadership, so be it.
Rishi Sunak starts by saying we need “a grown-up conversation about where we are, how we got here, And what we intend to do about it.”.
That is a conversation for the party, but also with the public, he says.
And it starts with being honest with each other.
Sunak says the leadership contest should not be a conversation behind closed doors.
It should be a chance for the party and the country to come together, he says.
Raab says the threat of the SNP breaking up the UK is real.
So there is no time to learn on the job.
The party has to unite to win, Raab says.
We are one team, and we will stand or fall together.
We need a leader who can win. The reality is, the polling shows only Rishi can beat Labour.
Raab says other candidates are talking about tax cuts.
But “while others talk the talk, Rishi this month delivered the biggest tax cut for a decade”.
Raab is referring to the rise in the national insurance threshold.
(Sunak has also delivered historic tax increases too, which the national insurance cut only partly compensates for, but this does not get a mention.)
Raab and Shapps back Sunak for next Tory leader
Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy PM, opens the event.
He says Rishi Sunak has what it takes to be PM.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, is also at the event. He has withdrawn his own bid to succeed Boris Johnson.
Rishi Sunak launched leadership campaign
The Rishi Sunak campaign launch is about to start. There is a live feed here.
Many journalists are there, but not my colleague John Crace, the Guardian’s sketchwriter. He was banned.
Truss wins backing from Rees-Mogg and Dorries, positioning her as Johnsonite, 'Stop Sunak' candidate
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, and Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, have just told Sky News that they are backing Liz Truss for the Tory leadership.
Rees-Mogg says Truss had been his strongest supporter in cabinet in terms of seeking Brexit opportunities. He went on:
When we discussed taxation, Liz was always opposed to Rishi’s higher taxes. That again is proper Conservatism. And I think she’s got the character to lead the party and the nation.
Asked if Truss was the ‘Stop Rishi’ candidate, Rees-Mogg replied:
Liz Truss is the best candidate. She’s a proper Eurosceptic. She will deliver for the voters. She’ll deliver for the voters. She believes in low taxation.
Dorries added: “And she’s a woman.”
This joint endorsement will firm up Truss’s position as the lead candidate for the Tory right. It also confirms that she is effectively the Johnsonite, ‘Stop Sunak’ candidate. Boris Johnson thinks his former chancellor was disloyal, and blocked his spending plans. Johnson said yesterday he would not be endorsing anyone himself, but his closest allies are now piling in behind Truss.
Truss has become the main Brexit candidate despite voting remain in 2016. That’s a tribute to the speed with which she repositioned herself, and also the credit she won with Brexiters as international trade secretary for signing trade deals (which critics said were mostly roll-over version of the trade deals the UK had as an EU member anyway).
Patrick Flynn, an analyst at the betting firm Smarkets, reckons Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt will be the Tory leadership candidates who make it through to the ballot for members. He sets out his thinking here.
This is from Steven Swinford from the Times, who is at the QEII centre in Westminster for the launch of the Rishi Sunak campaign.
Zahawi hits back at Sunak, saying 'cutting taxes isn't fairytale'
In an interview with BBC Breakfast this morning Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor and Tory leadership candidate, hit out at his predecessor for implying rivals offering immediate tax cuts were peddling “comforting fairy tales”. Zahawi told BBC Breakfast:
Of course we need to reduce the burden of tax.
I believe cutting taxes isn’t a fairytale but rather a critical step to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
Zahawi claimed his promises were fully costed, and he said he would be “saying more about the way we’ll pay for that in the coming days”.
He also said he was confident that he would receive the 20 nominations he needs by the end of the day to be on the ballot paper.
Ian King, the Sky News journalist who presents a morning business news show on the channel, wins this morning’s “speaking truth unto power” award. Sky News presenters are generally impartial, but King let rip when asked by his colleague, Kay Burley, about the Tory leadership candidates. He told viewers:
I’ve never heard such a lot of rubbish coming out of some of these people’s mouths. I remember a time when the Conservatives stood for sound money. Here they all are brandishing these unfunded tax cuts around. The whole thing is an absolute farce, isn’t it?
Last night the Conservative 1922 Committee confirmed that candidates would need at least 20 nominations to be included on the ballot paper in the first round of voting tomorrow. According to a tally by Politico (which includes Tory MPs who have hinted they will stand, as well as declared candidates), Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat have already clear the 20-nominations hurdle.
Grant Shapps, the transport secretary and Tory leadership candidate, has said that as PM he would increase defence spending to 3% of GDP. In an article for the Times he said:
We have shown that this country, far from detaching itself from Europe in the wake of Brexit, is more than ever an indispensable ingredient of European stability. A pillar of the Nato alliance, the most successful exercise in collective security in history.
But freedom is not free. There is a cost. That is why, as prime minister, I will raise defence spending to 3% of GDP, in contrast to the Nato-recommended minimum of 2%.
Why Labour is tabling no-confidence motion in government
As my colleague Alexandra Topping reports, Labour plans to table a no-confidence motion in the government that would be debated tomorrow.
No-confidence debates are relatively rare. As this Commons library note explains, the last one was in 2019, but that was the first since 1994.
It is important to remember that they fall into two categories. Sometimes the opposition tables a no-confidence motion in the hope of getting government MPs to abstain, or vote against, so they can bring down the government.
But sometimes no-confidence motions are tabled with the intention of getting government MPs to vote for an unpopular government. This is what Tony Benn wrote in his diaries in November 1990, when Margaret Thatcher was being challenged for the government.
The Labour party is of course keen to keep Thatcher, and Kinnock has put down a motion of censure against her, for Thursday, to try to consolidate Tory support around her. It is a disgrace that in eight years this is the first motion of censure.
Labour says it is tabling the motion because it wants Boris Johnson out of office by the end of the week. But there is no chance of the motion being passed because, although Tory MPs may not want Johnson to remain as PM, but they do want a Tory government to stay in power, and the debate will be about confidence in the government. Instead, the debate will provide Labour with campaign ammunition, because it will enable the party to say (justifiably) that Tory MPs voted to keep Johnson in office (if only for a few more weeks).
Boris Johnson’s allies launch bid to stop Sunak as survey casts doubt on former chancellor’s leadership chances
Good morning. Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, launches his campaign for the Tory leadership later. At one point he was seen as the clear favourite to succeed Boris Johnson, and the candidate best placed to help the Conservatives beat Labour, but his reputation collapsed early this year after his spring statement backfired and a row erupted over his wife’s non-dom status and the fact that he had a US green card when he became chancellor.
Conventional wisdom declared that he had ruined his chances of ever becoming prime minister. This morning he is still the candidate with the most public endorsements from fellow MPs. But he is by no means a shoo-in, and there are two bits of news out this morning that should be worrying for his campaign.
- Johnson’s allies are mounting a bid to stop Sunak becoming leader. The clearest sign of this in the Times, which quotes James Cleverly, the Johnson loyalist appointed education secretary last week, accusing Sunak of being a Treasury stooge and of “plotting” against the PM. To defend his plotting claim, Cleverly said:
I think what some people were doing was about trying to create the preconditions of a leadership contest. There are people like Liz [Truss] who have been defending the government’s decisions, working hard every day making sure the government does what it needs to do. People will draw their own conclusions about who has been fully committed.
Cleverly also said that, as chancellor, Sunak was “a spokesperson for Treasury officials”. He went on:
We have pursued an economic policy which a lot of people would find harder to differentiate from what a Labour government would do. We need to make it clear that you can’t keep putting up taxes to solve every challenge, you need to unlock economic growth.
In its story, the Times also reports that Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, and Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, are both set to endorse Truss as the candidate of the Tory right most likely to stop Sunak. Rees-Mogg and Dorries have consistently been Johnson’s most loyal cheerleaders.
- A survey of Conservative party members for the ConservartiveHome website suggests only around 12% of members favour Sunak as their first choice candidate to succeed. Penny Mordaunt comes top in the survey, but she is only on about 20% and perhaps what is most significant about the survey is what is suggests about members wanting someone new, not associated with the Johnson cabinet. This is from Paul Goodman, the ConservativeHome editor, in his analysis of the results.
Perhaps the reason is that some of them were involved in pushing out Boris Johnson. Or maybe it is that others tried to keep him on. Or perhaps it’s simply that yesterday’s candidates are old hat, amidst a culture that prizes sensation and novelty.
But whatever the explanation may be, the two chart-toppers in ConservativeHome’s first next Tory leader survey since Ben Wallace withdrew from the contest, aren’t members of the current cabinet at all.
Until now the Conservative leadership campaign has consisted of Sunak saying he won’t tell “comforting fairy tales” on the economy, while almost all the other candidates have been promising tax cuts almost immediately, with little or no indication of how they might be funded. At his launch today Sunak will say that he wants tax cuts too - but only when inflation is under control. Here is our preview story.
Here is the agenda for the day.
Morning: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet.
11am: Rishi Sunak holds his campaign launch.
11am: Tom Tugendhat holds his campaign launch.
11am: Kemi Badenoch launches her campaign.
11am: Sir John Major, the former Conservative prime minister, gives evidence to the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee about propriety in governance in the light of Greensill.
6pm: Nominations close for leadership candidates. To stand in the first ballot tomorrow, MPs will need the backing of at least 20 colleagues.
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UPDATE: The nominations close at 6pm, not 10pm as this post originally said.