UK gave away ‘too much for too little’ in free trade deal with Australia, says former minister, blaming Truss – as it happened

Last modified: 06: 24 PM GMT+0

George Eustice says the free trade deal with Australia – hailed by Boris Johnson as one of the big gains from Brexit – was poor. This live blog is now closed

Early evening summary

  • George Eustice, the former environment secretary, has said the UK “gave away far too much for far too little in return” in its free trade deal with Australia, which he had to defend when he was in government. In a Commons debate, Eustice also blamed Liz Truss, international trade secretary when negotiations opened, for the fact that the UK gave too much away. (See 6.03pm.)


UK gave away 'far too much for far too little' in free trade deal with Australia, says George Eustice, blaming Liz Truss

George Eustice, the former environment secretary, has told MPs that the Commons that the free trade deal with Australia – hailed by Boris Johnson’s government as one of the big trade gains from Brexit – was a poor deal for the UK.

Eustice, who was an enthusiastic Brexiter and was environment secretary while the deal was being negotiated, said the UK “gave away far too much for far too little in return”.

Speaking in a Commons debate on trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, Eustice, who was sacked by Liz Truss (international trade secretary when negotiations with Australia on the deal opened), said:

The first step is to recognise that the Australia trade deal is not actually a very good deal for the UK. It wasn’t for lack of trying on my part. Indeed, there were things that we achieved: a special agricultural safeguard for years 10 to 15, staged liberalisation across the first decade, the protection of British sovereignty in SPS [sanitary and phytosanitary] issues.

It’s no surprise that many of these areas were areas negotiated either exclusively or predominantly by Defra on behalf of the UK team.

But it has to be said that, overall the truth of the matter is that the UK gave away far too much for far too little in return.

Eustice said the UK gave too many concessions to Australian farmers. He said it was not necessary for the UK to give Australia (and New Zealand, in its deal) full liberalisation for beef and sheep, and he said “neither Australia nor New Zealand had anything to offer in return for such a grand concession”.

Eustice blamed Truss for what went wrong. He said:

The UK went into this negotiation holding the strongest hand, holding all of the best cards, but at some point in early summer 2021, the then trade secretary [Truss] took a decision to set an arbitrary target to conclude heads of terms by the time of the G7 summit, and from that moment the UK was on the back foot repeatedly.

In fact, at one point the then trade secretary asked her opposite number from Australia what he would need in order to be able to conclude an agreement by G7, and of course the Australian negotiator very kindly set out the Australian terms, which then shaped eventually the deal.

Eustice said that, as a backbencher, he no longer felt obliged to put a “positive gloss” on what was achieved. He went on:

Unless we recognise the failures that the Department for International Trade made during the Australia negotiations, we won’t be able to learn the lessons of future negotiations.

He also said that, if necessary, the UK should be prepared to spend a decade negotiating joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The government should never again “put ourselves in such a position of setting the clock against us and shattering our own negotiating position”, he said.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan was international trade secretary when the deal was signed in December last year. At the time she said the deal was “just the start as we get on the front foot and seize the seismic opportunities that await us on the world stage”.

George Eustice
George Eustice Photograph: HoC


Sturgeon says people should be 'profoundly concerned' by reports autumn statement will raise taxes for poorest

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has said everyone should be “profoundly concerned” by suggestions that the poor will have to pay more in tax as a result of the decisions in the autumn statement being unveiled on Thursday. On a visit to a school in Glasgow, she said:

I think the hints that have been given in public in the media, by the chancellor, over the weekend should make everybody profoundly concerned.

He’s talking about everybody having to pay more taxes, at a time when those at the lowest end of the income spectrum are already really struggling. If those tax increases fall there, that is of profound concern.

She also said there was a chance looming public sector cuts would cause “significant problems” for services that are “still recovering not just from Covid but from the years of austerity that followed the last financial crash”.

But Sturgeon did welcome the news that the website dealing with the Scottish government’s Scottish child payment reportedly crashed temporarily this morning.

The value of the payment has gone up today from £20 per week to £25 per week, and the number of children eligible is being increased fourfold (from around 100,000 to around 400,00). Sturgeon said she was glad there was such a “massive demand” for it.

Nicola Sturgeon talking to pupils at Whitehill secondary school in Glasgow this morning.
Nicola Sturgeon talking to pupils at Whitehill secondary school in Glasgow this morning. Photograph: Robert Perry/PA


Rees-Mogg criticised for claiming UK could not have fully supported Ukraine without Brexit

Supporters of Brexit seem to be finding it increasingly hard to point to benefits that Britain is enjoying from being outside the EU – or at least significant benefits, that outweigh the clear downsides. As my colleague Anna Isaac reports, Michael Saunders, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, has said that, because of the damage it has done to the economy, “if we hadn’t had Brexit, we probably wouldn’t be talking about an austerity budget this week”.

But Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary and leading Brexiter, claims to have discovered a new benefit of Brexit. He says that, without Brexit, the UK would not have been able to support Ukraine to the extent that it did. He made the claim in an interview with GB News last night (where he implied Ukraine might have lost, without Brexit-enabled UK support), and he has restated his claim today.

The doctrine of sincere co-operation would have prevented an independent policy on Ukraine. Thank goodness for Brexit.

— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) November 14, 2022

In his interview Rees-Mogg was not asked to explain his reasoning, and it is hard to follow his reasoning. Members of the EU have considerable independence in defence and foreign policy matters, and many members are just as pro-Ukraine as the UK, or more so.

Even Boris Johnson – who is fiercely proud of his record on Ukraine, and not shy of making bogus claims about the merits of Brexit – has not tried pursuing this argument.

Chris Bryant, a Labour former Europe minister, says Rees-Mogg’s claim is a “straight lie”.

This is a straight lie. If he believes it, he’s deluded.

— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) November 14, 2022


Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, has accused Rishi Sunak of “cowering” behind bullies. Responding to his comments defending Dominic Raab, Rayner said in a statement:

It is anti-bullying week, but instead of holding the bullies to account this prime minister is cowering behind them. Rishi Sunak clearly knew about Dominic Raab’s reputation when he reappointed him to his cabinet.

The prime minister’s promised appointment of an ethics watchdog is now long overdue leaving his pledge to bring integrity to his government lying in tatters. Just weeks after he was installed as prime minister there is already an overflowing in-tray of fresh accusations of ministerial misconduct.


Braverman tells MPs she is 'not going to overplay' significance of migrants deal with France

In the Commons Suella Braverman, the home secretary, said that the UK-France small boats agreement was “a step forward” – but stressed that she did not want to overstate its significance. She said:

I’m not going to overplay this agreement. It’s a very important step forward, I think it provides a very good platform from which deeper collaboration can be secured …

Is it going to solve the problem on its own? It won’t, but I do encourage everybody to support the deal we have secured.

Braverman was replying to a question from Natalie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover. Echoing her criticism of the deal earlier on Twitter (see 2.44pm), Elphicke said that it fell short of what was needed and that the small boat arrivals were having a “dreadful impact on local services” in Kent.

Suella Braverman in the Commons this afternoon.
Suella Braverman in the Commons this afternoon. Photograph: PRU/AFP/Getty Images


UK to withdraw its peacekeeping force from Mali, defence minister tells MPs

In the Commons James Heappey, the armed forces minister, has just delivered a statement saying the UK is withdrawing its peacekeeping troops from the west African state of Mali.

As PA Media reports, the 300-strong UK contingent with the United Nations peacekeeping mission is to end its three-year deployment early. PA says:

The move comes after President Emmanuel Macron announced in February that French-led forces fighting jihadists in the region would be relocating from Mali to Niger.

The decisions reflect growing concern in western capitals that the military junta in Mali has increasingly aligned itself with the notorious Russian mercenary organisation - the Wagner Group.

After Heappey delivered his statement, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, complained that the news had been leaked to the Times before it was announced to MPs.


During Home Office questions a Conservative MP said asylum seekers were being housed in a hotel in his constituency previously identified as a fire risk. Luke Evans, MP for Bosworth, said:

I have a hotel in Earl Shilton that has twice been identified to try and deal with the backlog but failed due to health and safety concerns, particularly around fire. I was surprised when my constituents wrote to me saying they had seen asylum seekers in this hotel.

Evans said the local councils and police had not been told about the placement, and he said it took him 72 hours to get the Home Office to confirm asylum seekers were being housed in the hotel.

Suella Braverman said that “local partners” should have been informed, but that “due to the incredible pressure on the system recently” sometimes that did not happen.


Labour claims Nationality and Borders Act 'adding further delays' to processing of asylum claims

During Home Office questions in the Commons Stephen Kinnock, the shadow immigration minister, claimed a law passed by the government was contributing to the delay in processing asylum claims.

Kinnock said:

The Nationality and Borders Act establishes a new category of asylum seekers whom the government claims are not permitted to claim asylum in Britain and who should therefore be removed.

But, because they have failed to agree a returns agreement with France and because the Rwanda policy is completely unworkable, 16,000 people in this category have been stuck in limbo waiting an additional six months for a decision at huge cost to the British taxpayer.

Of those 16,000 who are in limbo, only 21 have been returned since the act came into force.

Do ministers therefore accept that their own legislation is adding further delays, cost, chaos and confusion to an already broken system, whilst doing next to nothing to remove failed asylum seekers who have no right to be here?

In response, Suella Braverman, the home secretary, said Labour was not offering any solutions. She told Kinnock:

I find it staggering, frankly, that Labour seem to love complaining about the system, but when we introduce laws to fix it, what did they do? They opposed every step of the way.

We wanted to make it easier to deport foreign national offenders, Labour voted against it. We wanted to fix our asylum system, Labour voted against it. We secured a groundbreaking agreement with Rwanda, Labour would scrap it. Labour are very, very, very good at complaining, they have absolutely no solution at all.


UK announces further sanctions against Iranian officials over repression of protests

The UK, with foriegn allies, is imposing fresh sanctions on Iranian officials, in response to the repression of protests in the country, the Foreign Office has announced.

James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, said:

These sanctions target officials within the Iranian regime who are responsible for heinous human rights violations.

Together with our partners, we have sent a clear message to the Iranian regime - the violent crackdown on protests must stop and freedom of expression must be respected.

The Iranian people could not be clearer. It’s time for the regime to stop blaming external actors and start listening to the voices of their people.

When Rishi Sunak met his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, at the G20 summit in Bali, the pair enjoyed drinks and snacks at the Bumbu Bali arts cafe, with Trudeau choosing a Bintang beer and teetotal Sunak ordering a mango spritz, PA Media reports. PA says:

Sunak asked his Canadian counterpart about his Asean visit, saying he was interested because the UK now has an Indo-Pacific tilt to its foreign policy.

The leaders also talked about the UK’s potential accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade pact, which would allow Britain to work more closely with Pacific rim economies.

Justin Trudeau, left, and Rishi Sunak walk at the Art Cafe Bumbu Bali in Bali.
Justin Trudeau, left, and Rishi Sunak walk at the Art Cafe Bumbu Bali in Bali. Photograph: Sean Kilpatrick/AP


Johnson makes rare appearance at departmental questions in Commons, campaigning to save Uxbridge police station

In House of Commons Suella Braverman, the home secretary, is taking questions, and she has just responded to a question from Boris Johnson. The former prime minister has not been a regular contributor to the Commons since he stood down, and he almost never attends departmental questions, but he intervened on the topic of policing in London. After praising the record of his own government on police recruitment, he asked Braverman if she agreed that Uxbridge police station should remain open.

Johnson is MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. It is not a place he has mentioned often in the Commons in recent years, but perhaps he is less busy now than he used to be, and he may have noticed that, despite having a majority of 7,210, some recent polling implies he could lose his seat if Labour maintains its big lead.

This is from Mail Online’s David Wilcock.

The lesser-spotted Boris Johnson seen in the Commons chamber, making the case for keeping a police station in his Uxbridge constituency at Home Office Questions

— David Wilcock (@DavidTWilcock) November 14, 2022

In response, Braverman praised Johnson and claimed his record on crime was better than his successor, Sadiq Khan’s. But she did not say anything about the Uxbridge police station.

UPDATE: My colleague Pippa Crerar says this is only the fourth time Johnson has mentioned Uxbridge in the Commons since he became its MP.

Just the *fourth* time that Boris Johnson has mentioned "Uxbridge" in the Commons in the 7.5 years he's been an MP, according to Hansard.

First two were on the same day in June 2015, the third in March 2017 about display cabinets made in his seat being used in Saudi airports.

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) November 14, 2022


Tory MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke says UK-France small boats deal 'falls short of what's needed'

Natalie Elphicke, the Conservative MP for Dover, says the UK-France small boats deal announced today “falls short of what’s needed”.

The deal announced with France today falls short of what’s needed. It doesn’t match the scale or urgency of the small boats crisis, or the increased risk of loss of life as Winter approaches.

— Natalie Elphicke MP (@NatalieElphicke) November 14, 2022

What’s needed is a step-change in approach with joint border patrols and a Channel-wide joint security zone.

It’s only when migrants and people smugglers alike know that they can’t succeed in crossing the Channel in a small boat that this crisis will come to an end.

— Natalie Elphicke MP (@NatalieElphicke) November 14, 2022


Starmer says UK-France migrants deal 'small step in right direction', but says Tories created problem in first place

Keir Starmer has described the UK-France small boats deal as “a small step in the right direction”. Speaking on a visit to Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, he said:

Most people will look at this and say, look, there’s more taxpayers’ cash now being spent on a problem of the government’s making.

This has been going on a very, very long time. And the home secretary has said that the asylum system is broken. She’s right about that – they broke it.

A small step in the right direction. But a much bigger challenge that the government still isn’t gripping.

Keir Starmer speaking to journalists on a visit to Milton Keynes.
Keir Starmer speaking to journalists on a visit to Milton Keynes. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA


Dominic Raab’s allies are saying that they do not accept Simon McDonald’s comments about his behaviour at the Foreign Office (see 2pm), and suggesting that some his officials deserved criticism because their work wasn’t up to scratch, my colleague Pippa Crerar reports.

Dominic Raab’s allies furious with what they regard as attempt by FCDO civil servants to paint him as a bully - with one suggesting the only difficult conversations had with permanent secretary were about calibre of some officials’ work. Full clip here 👇🏼

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) November 14, 2022

Shapps says post-Brexit replacement of EU's product safety marking being delayed for two years to cut costs for business

Grant Shapps, the business secretary, has announced that the government is delaying by two years the point by which companies have to stop using the EU’s CE product safety marking and use the new British version, UKCA, instead.

The CE marking was supposed to be phased for British regulatory purposes in December this year, but Shapps says it will continue to be recognised for another two years.

In a statement in his department’s news release, Shapps depicts the delay as a pro-growth measure – implicitly accepting that the post-Brexit move away from CE marking is imposing a cost on business. Shapps says:

The government is determined to remove barriers to businesses so they can get on with their top priorities, like providing quality customer service, enabling growth and supporting their staff.

This move will give businesses the breathing space and flexibility they need at this crucial time and ensure that our future system for product safety marking is fit for purpose, providing the highest standard for consumers without harming businesses.

We know it’s a difficult time for business. That is why we are giving firms more time to adopt the new UKCA product marking system – so they can focus on growing, creating jobs and driving economic success.

— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) November 14, 2022

Rishi Sunak holding a meeting with his Canadian opposite number, Justin Trudeau, at the G20 summit in Bali.
Rishi Sunak holding a meeting with his Canadian opposite number, Justin Trudeau, at the G20 summit in Bali. Photograph: Reuters

Former Foreign Office chief says he's not surprised other officials viewed Raab as bully

Simon McDonald was head of the Foreign Office when Dominic Raab was foreign secretary. In an interview for Andrew Marr’s LBC show at 6pm this evening, McDonald said that Raab was a tough boss, and that he is not surprised other officials viewed him as a bully. These are from LBC’s Matthew Harris.

NEW: Former FCO Permenanet Secretary when Dominic Raab was at the Foreign Office, Simon MacDonald, when asked by @AndrewMarr9
Do you think the characterisation Raab could bully is a plausible one? "Yes"
He also refused to deny that he had to speak to Mr Raab about his behaviour.

— Matthew Harris (@hattmarris84) November 14, 2022

Lord McDonald with some classic reading between the lines diplomatic language here: "Dominic Raab is one of the most driven people I've ever worked for. He was a tough boss...I worked closely with him and didn't see everything that happened" @AndrewMarr9 @LBC

— Matthew Harris (@hattmarris84) November 14, 2022

McDonald added: "I worked at the FCO for 38 years pressure characterised most of those years. Fractious relations between ministers and civil servants were much more obvious at the end than at the beginning" @LBC

— Matthew Harris (@hattmarris84) November 14, 2022

WATCH 👀: Full interview after 6 Tonight with @AndrewMarr9 on

— Matthew Harris (@hattmarris84) November 14, 2022

McDonald was the former permanent secretary who triggered the downfall of Boris Johnson when he revealed that No 10 was not telling the truth about Johnson being aware of specific allegations about Chris Pincher. Two days later Johnson announced his resignation.

Retired civil servants do not normally intervene in political controversies quite this bluntly, and McDonald’s decision to denounce Johnson was seen as revenge for the way he was forced to retire. But it was reported that McDonald only went public after his private advice to No 10 that it needed to change its story about Pincher, because the public were being misled, was ignored.


Sunak says he's confident Channel crossing numbers can be cut - but won't say when, and stresses France deal 'just a start'

Here are the main points from Rishi Sunak’s pooled broadcast interview with Sky’s Beth Rigby.

  • Sunak said he was confident that asylum seeker number could be reduced, but refused to say it would happen next year as a result of the deal with France. Asked if he could guarantee that the number of people crossing the Channel in small boats would fall from this year’s record high, more than 40,000 (see 9.45am), as a result of the deal, Sunak at first refused to answer the question. Pressed again on whether numbers would fall next year, he replied:

I’m confident that we can get the numbers down, but I also want to be honest with people that it isn’t a single thing that will magically solve this. We can’t do it overnight.

People should be absolutely reassured that this is a top priority for me. I’m gripping it and, as I’ve said, in the time that I’ve been prime minister, you’re already starting to see some progress with this deal with the French.

But that’s just a start. There’s lots more that we need to do.

  • He declined to say that the tax rises or spending cuts in the autumn statement on Thursday would be worse because of Liz Truss’s mini-budget. Asked if the government was having to make “harder choices” because of Truss, Sunak at first stressed the impact of global factors, like Covid and the war in Ukraine. When pressed again, he replied:

On the steps of Downing Street I said that mistakes had been made. And part of the reason that I became prime minister was to address them and what we’ve seen now is that stability has returned to the United Kingdom.

Kwasi Kwarteng, Truss’s chancellor at the time of the mini-budget, argues that because the mistakes in the mini-budget have been mostly reversed, it can’t be blamed for the public finances being in a worse state than they otherwise would have been. Jeremy Hunt, the current chancellor, has implied he does not accept this. Sunak is saying Truss made mistakes, but he seems reluctant to say that she caused long-term damage to the national finances.

  • Sunak claimed that “fairness and compassion” would be at the heart of the autumn statement.

  • He stressed the importance of working constructively with other countries, citing migration, and the deal with France, as an example of why they could help the UK. He said:

We should make our voices heard and constructively work with people where we can to make a difference for people at home as well. And you saw that recently when it comes to migration, the ability to talk to other countries can have benefits for people at home, and that’s what I’m here to do.

Sunak was explaining why it was important to attend the G20 summit, even though G20 countries do not all agree on Ukraine. (See 12.45pm.) His comment might seem like a statement of the obvious, but he does also seem keen to make the point that, after Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, the UK is now being led by someone less antagonistic towards foreigners.


Rishi Sunak has recorded a pooled interview with Beth Rigby from Sky News. As she reports, Sunak insisted that it was right for him to attend the G20 summit even if, as a group, it does not issue a joint condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sunak in pool clip on condemning Russia + his acknowledgment that #G20 divided on issue as accepts no joint condemnation of Russia. Says important to keep talking (write up via @sophie_wing8)

— Beth Rigby (@BethRigby) November 14, 2022

Russia is a member of the G20, which is one reason why there won’t be a joint communique condemning the invasion. But some other G20 members have been unwilling to criticise Vladimir Putin over Ukraine too.


Here are some more pictures of Rishi Sunak arriving in Bali, where he is attending the G20 summit.

Rishi Sunak arriving in Bali.
Rishi Sunak arriving in Bali. Photograph: Leon Neal/AP
Rishi Sunak arriving in Bali.
Rishi Sunak arriving in Bali. Photograph: Reuters

No 10 refuses to deny concern expressed about Raab's conduct towards staff when he was Brexit secretary

As my colleague Pippa Crerar reports, at the lobby briefing Downing Street also refused to deny a report in the Observer that a “serious expression of concern” about Dominic Raab’s conduct towards staff was sent to the Cabinet Office when he was Brexit secretary.

💥No 10 repeatedly fails to deny cabinet office received a "serious expression of concern" about Dominic Raab's alleged behaviour while DExEU secretary - simply saying it had "not received a formal complaint".

— Pippa Crerar (@PippaCrerar) November 14, 2022

No 10 refuses to say it is confident UK-France migrants deal will bring number of small boat Channel crossings down

At the Downing Street lobby briefing the prime minister’s spokesperson confirmed that there are no targets attached to the UK-France asylum deal for how it should reduce small boat Channel crossings. Echoing the stance taken by James Cleverly this morning (see 9.23am), No 10 won’t even say it is confident the deal will bring numbers down. This is from Lucy Fisher from Times Radio.


Govt has stumped up £70m for new migration partnership with France, but has agreed *no* concrete targets for deal to reduce small boat crossings, says No 10 spox

Downing St won’t even say the govt is confident the deal will bring numbers down… 🫠

— Lucy Fisher (@LOS_Fisher) November 14, 2022

I will post more from the lobby briefing shortly.

Sunak says he does ‘not recognise’ bullying claims against Raab

Rishi Sunak has defended his deputy prime minister and justice secretary, Dominic Raab, saying he does not recognise claims from multiple civil servants that he bullied staff. Speaking to journalists on his flight to Bali following my colleague Pippa Crerar’s revelation on Friday night that staff in Raab’s office at the MoJ were offered the chance to move because some were still traumatised by the experience of working for him when he was last there, Sunak said he did not recognise that description of Raab. He said:

I don’t recognise that characterisation of Dominic and I’m not aware of any formal complaints about him.

Of course, there are established procedures for civil servants if they want to bring to light any issues. I’m not aware of any formal complaint about Dominic.

My colleague Jessica Elgot has the full story here.


The SNP has also criticised the UK-France small boats deal, saying there should be “many more” safe and legal routes for people seeking asylum in the UK. This is from Anne McLauglin MP, the SNP’s immigration spokesperson.

While co-operation with the French is welcome, no deal will fix the Tories disastrous asylum system. With independence, Scotland can rid ourselves of callous Tory policies and create a humane migration system that works for us.

We have seen deals like this before and they have failed to significantly improve the situation. The UK government must instead focus on creating more safe and legal routes, which we know work, and address the backlog of asylum decisions.

The whole UK asylum system needs root and branch reform to make it humane and fit for purpose, including giving asylum seekers the right to work, creating many more safe and legal routes, and providing decent accommodation and support systems for those seeking safety upon arrival.

But more immediately, the 10,000 asylum seekers who have been waiting for a decision for three years or more deserve an answer. These people should have already had their decision by now and could be working, paying tax and contributing to our society. The money the UK government is using to pay the French for border control would be better spent on hiring and training more Home Office staff to get through the backlog.

Labour dismisses UK-France deal to curb Channel migration as too little, too late

Labour is dismissing the UK-France small boats deal as too little, too late. This is what Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, posted about it on Twitter last night.

We’ve long called for stronger agreement w France to prevent dangerous boat crossings.

But measures described here on intelligence sharing & patrols shd have been happening long ago. And still far too little joint action to investigate & crack down on criminal gangs.

— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) November 13, 2022

UPDATE: Stephen Kinnock, the shadow immigration minister, delivered the same critique in an interview with Sky News this morning.

The deal signed by Home Sec in Paris is simply too little too late.

We need more ambition, and immediate action on asylum backlog.

We would scrap the Rwanda scheme, and invest in the NCA, so that they can proactively tackle people smugglers in the Channel.

— Stephen Kinnock (@SKinnock) November 14, 2022


Rishi Sunak arriving at Ngurah Rai international airport ahead of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Rishi Sunak arriving at Ngurah Rai international airport ahead of the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Photograph: Firdia Lisnawati/EPA

As my colleagues Aletha Adu, Pippa Crerar and Jessica Elgot report, senior Labour figures have said that Jeremy Corbyn will never be permitted to stand again as a candidate for the party at a general election.

Momentum, the Labour group set up when Corbyn was leader to promote him and his agenda, has described this stance as “disgraceful”.

This is disgraceful.

Jeremy has won Islington North *ten times* for Labour. He is a Labour member and elected MP.

But instead of uniting the Party and following due process, Keir Starmer is treating the whip as his personal plaything. It must end.

— Momentum 🌹 (@PeoplesMomentum) November 14, 2022

As our report explains, if Corbyn ends up running for parliament as a non-Labour candidate at the next election, Momentum will not be able to support him without becoming a banned organisation within the party. Adu, Crerar and Elgot report:

Should Corbyn decide to run at the next election as an independent, it would pose a potentially existential dilemma for Momentum, the grassroots leftwing group that emerged out of Corbyn’s leadership campaign, which has become a pressure group for the Labour left and the loudest critic of Starmer’s leadership.

Senior Labour sources have made it clear that should Momentum campaign for Corbyn, it would be proscribed as an organisation by Labour – similar to the way Militant or other leftwing groups that challenged Labour MPs have been treated.

Rishi Sunak has touched down on the tropical island of Bali ahead of the G20 summit, PA Media reports. PA says:

As the prime minister stepped out of the plane and into the evening humidity, he was met by a guard of honour and a troupe of dancers on the tarmac.

Sunak looked on and smiled as the group performed a spectacular traditional Balinese dance called “pendet”, carrying bowls of flower petals as their gold headdresses gleamed in the airport floodlights.

The prime minister arrived in Bali after a long-haul flight evening, ahead of the two-day summit’s kick off the next morning.


James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, was criticised last month for saying that gay football fans visiting Qatar for the Word Cup should “be respectful”, and make allowance for the country’s intolerance of homosexuality.

In an interview on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Cleverly defended his comments, saying that the Foreign Office always advises people to obey local laws when they are travelling. He told the programme:

My focus is to make sure that British visitors, particularly LGBTQ+ visitors to Qatar going to enjoy the World Cup, are safe and that they enjoy their tournament. So my advice was purely about ensuring that they have a safe and secure time at the World Cup.

We always say that you have to respect the laws of your host nation. That is a universal element of British travel advice.

Asked if gay football fans should refrain from holding hands while there, he said he wanted to ensure fans were safe. He said:

I’ve spoken at length with the Qatari authorities on this and it’s worth bearing in mind that men and women don’t typically hold hands in Qatar, and other conservative Muslim countries like Qatar, so my strong advice is to look at the UK government’s travel advice.


Amnesty International UK has also criticised today’s UK-France small boats deal, saying it just another version of a “failed response’ that has not work. The charity’s refugee and migrant rights director, Steve Valdez-Symonds, said:

This deal is just the same as previous deals - spending money and resources on intercepting and obstructing people crossing the Channel, while doing nothing to address their need for safe access to an asylum system.

The inevitable result will be more dangerous journeys and more profits led by ruthless smuggling gangs and other serious criminals exploiting the refusal of the UK and French government to take and share responsibility.

Perpetuating this dreadful human suffering by recycling the same failed response to punish and deter desperate people in miserable and unsafe conditions has become mindless to the point of cruelty.

Unless the UK government accepts its share of people into its asylum system, particularly people with family and connections in the UK, there seems little prospect that anything is going to change, let alone improve.

Sadiq Khan dismisses UK-France small boats deal as 'red meat' for public that does not address cause of problem

Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayor of London, has dismissed the UK-France small boats deal as “red meat” for the public that does not address cause of the problem. He told Times Radio:

My concern is what the government’s doing today is sort of throwing some red meat to people who are concerned about migration and not addressing the core issue we’ve had over the last 11 months, 40,000 people crossing the Channel in little boats.

So this tough rhetoric clearly isn’t working by itself.

You’ve got to have close relations with France, colleagues in the European Union, with countries in north Africa, you’ve got to deal at source with those people who are playing on the misery of asylum seekers and refugees in relation to charging them a fortune.


Cleverly claims most people trying to get to UK in small boats are economic migrants

In an article in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, said that asylum seekers should not be staying in luxury hotels. Echoing comments made by his boss, Suella Braverman, the home secretary, who recently complained about migrants being housed in four-star hotels, Jenrick said:

Human decency has to be accompanied by hard-headed common sense: illegal immigrants are not entitled to luxury hotels. Conditions in the UK are almost always better than in neighbouring countries, which helps explain why the UK is a destination of choice for economic migrants on the continent “asylum shopping”.

“Hotel Britain” must end, and be replaced with simple, functional accommodation that does not create an additional pull factor.

In an interview this morning James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, defended Jenrick’s comments, saying it was important to reduce the “pull factor” that made the UK attractive to economic migrants. He also claimed that most people trying to get to the UK were economic migrants. He told BBC Breakfast:

Many of the people, the bulk of people attempting to get to the UK, are economic migrants rather than fleeing persecution or war. They are seeking a better life. I get that, I understand that, the UK is a wonderful place to live.

But it is because they perceive the UK to be a very generous country, that is part of the pull factor.

Recent Home Office figures undermine claims that most of those crossing the Channel in small boats are economic migrants, rather than people with a genuine reason to seek asylum. Of the asylum cases that were decided in the year ending in June 2022, 76% initial decisions resulted in asylum, or an alternative form of leave to remain, being granted. That is the highest figure since 1990, when 82% of initial applications were granted.

Fifth of hospitality firms have cut trading hours to save energy costs, ONS says

Over a fifth of hospitality firms have cut their hours over the past three months in a bid to cut energy costs, the Office for National Statistics has revealed.

The ONS has released a report saying food and drink service firms, such as pubs, restaurants and bars, are more likely than firms in any other sector to cut trading to deal with mammoth increases in energy bills.

It says 21% of firms in the sector have cut their trading hours as a result, even if they are still operating for the same number of days.

Meanwhile, 6% of businesses in the sector say they have cut trading by two or more days a week over the past three months.

Firms cutting trading due to energy costs
Firms cutting trading due to energy costs. Photograph: ONS


Suella Braverman has been tweeting about the new small boats deal with the French.

Today, I signed an agreement with my friend @GDarmanin in Paris to ramp up our co-ordination to tackle illegal immigration. Our new deal will see UK officers embedded in French operations for the first time & a 40% increase in French officers patrolling in northern France 1/2

— Suella Braverman MP (@SuellaBraverman) November 14, 2022

Ce n'est qu'en travaillant ensemble que nous pouvons espérer résoudre ce problème complexe. Je voulais remercier Gérald et son équipe pour leur travail et leur coopération. 🇬🇧🇫🇷

— Suella Braverman MP (@SuellaBraverman) November 14, 2022

And these are from her French opposite number, Gérald Darminin.

Avec mon homologue @SuellaBraverman, nous signons aujourd’hui l’engagement de nos deux pays à renforcer la coopération contre l’immigration clandestine trans-Manche ⤵️

— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) November 14, 2022

👉🏼Engagement du Royaume-Uni à verser 72,2 millions d’euros pour lutter contre l’immigration clandestine
👉🏼augmentation de 40% des effectifs à la frontière
👉🏼financement de nouveaux équipements de surveillance
👉🏼Renforcement de la coordination et du partage d’information

— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) November 14, 2022

Some 853 people were detected crossing the English Channel in small boats on Sunday, the Ministry of Defence said. It follows 972 crossings on Saturday.

As PA Media reports, the cumulative number of crossings this year now stands at a provisional total of 41,738.

Total crossings last year were 28,526.

There were 26 boats detected on Sunday, which suggests an average of around 33 people crossed the Channel per boat.


Lucy Moreton, an official with the ISU, the union for borders, immigration and customs staff, told Times Radio the new UK-France deal on asylum seekers would not address the core problem.

She said that interrupting migrants to “just let them go to try again” would not have the required impact and nothing in the deal suggested that “the French are going to move away from that position”. She went on:

The sticking points just simply have not been addressed.

As PA Media reports, the ISU professional officer added that intercepting migrants so they do not try to get to the UK again was not something the French “have ever wanted to do”, as from the French perspective “they are going the right way and it’s entirely understandable that they are not very keen to interrupt that”.

She said the UK needed to deal with the issue itself by resourcing “the court system far better than it has been” in order to process claims in a shorter space of time.

As my colleague Rajeev Syal reports, more than 40,000 people seeking asylum in the UK have waited between one and three years for a decision on their claim, new figures show.


Suella Braverman, the home secretary, has signed the new UK-France agreement on Channel crossings with her French counterpart, Gérald Darmanin, this morning. She said that it wasn’t a quick fix, but that it would lead to a significant increase in the number of French officers patrolling beaches. She said:

We must do everything we can to stop people making these dangerous journeys and crack down on the criminal gangs.

This is a global challenge requiring global solutions, and it is in the interests of both the UK and French governments to work together to solve this complex problem.

There are no quick fixes but this new arrangement will mean we can significantly increase the number of French gendarmes patrolling the beaches in northern France and ensure UK and French officers are working hand in hand to stop the people smugglers.

Suella Braverman shaking hands with Gérald Darmanin, the French interior minister, after they both signed the new asylum seekers agreement in Paris.
Suella Braverman shaking hands with Gérald Darmanin, the French interior minister, after they both signed the new asylum seekers agreement in Paris. Photograph: Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

James Cleverly refuses to say how UK-France deal on asylum seekers will affect numbers crossing Channel

Rishi Sunak will be arriving in Bali later for the G20 summit, but he has been speaking to the journalists travelling with him on his plane about a deal announced this morning with France, to increase cooperation on tackling people using small boats to cross the Channel. Here is our story, by my colleagues Jessica Elgot (who is with Sunak) and Peter Walker.

Sunak told reporters there was no “single thing” that would solve the small boats problem, but he said he was “confident we can bring the numbers down over time”.

But the government won’t say what difference it expects the deal with the French announced today to make. James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, has been giving interviews this morning and he has been dodging questions on this point. On the Today programme he said that cooperation with the French was already making a difference and that 29,000 people had been stopped from getting to the UK this year – almost twice as many as in previous years. But when Today’s Mishal Husain asked him what impact the new agreement was likely to have on the number of crossings (“I’m sure that you have a way of measuring that,” she said, optimistically), Cleverly declined to give a figure. He replied:

It’s really important you understand that we are we are dealing with an evolving situation … It’s very, very difficult to predict exact numbers. It depends on so many variables, but the important thing is that we are working more closely [with the French] …. more French officers on the beaches as a direct result of the agreement that the home secretary and the French interior minister have signed today.

How many migrants will be stopped from crossing the Channel under new UK-France deal?

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tells @MishalHusain it’s “very difficult” to predict exact numbers, but the deal “will make a difference”. | #R4Today

— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) November 14, 2022

I will post more from his interviews shortly.

Here is the agenda for the day.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

12.45pm: Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, gives the keynote speech at the Centre for Policy Studies Margaret Thatcher Conference on Growth.

2.30pm: Home Office questions in the Commons.

4pm: James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, gives evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee.

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

Rishi Sunak speaking to journalists on his plane to Bali.
Rishi Sunak speaking to journalists on his plane to Bali. Photograph: Reuters



Andrew Sparrow

The GuardianTramp

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