SNP MP faces inquiry for exposing how Nadine Dorries avoided

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No 10 refuses to deny Home Office planning list of ‘safe’ countries to which asylum seekers face swift return

At the Downing Street lobby briefing the PM’s spokesperson gave journalists a briefing on Rishi Sunak’s innovation evangelism at cabinet. (See 12.10pm.) Here are the other main lines from what he said.

  • No 10 refused to deny a report saying the Home Office wants to revive a “safe list” of countries to which asylum seekers could be returned speedily. This is broadly what David Davis and around 50 other Tory MPs were calling for yesterday, and in the Times Matt Dathan says Suella Braverman, the home secretary, wants this as policy. Dathan says:

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, is looking to resurrect a list of designated “safe” countries, from whose citizens asylum claims are largely regarded as unfounded. Rejected claimants will have no right to appeal.

The list would include Albania, the nationality which has accounted for the largest number of small boats across the Channel this year with more than 12,000 of the 43,000 arrivals.

The Times understands that the Home Office is seeking to emulate a policy carried out by the New Labour government in the early 2000s in which it dealt with claims from asylum seekers from so-called “white-list” countries within ten days.

Asked if this was correct, the spokesperson said he did not want to comment on speculation. But he went on:

You will know that this is an area, in broad terms. where we are looking to do more. One of the prime minister’s priorities is getting a grip on the illegal immigration system. But I’m not going to get into sort of speculating on what further approaches may or may not be.

Tuesday's Times: Social media firms told to protect young or pay price #TomorrowsPapersToday #TheTimes #Times

— Tomorrows Papers Today (@TmorrowsPapers) November 28, 2022


  • The spokesperson refused to say whether Rishi Sunak backed the argument that Michael Gove made in 2017 proposing putting VAT on private school fees. Gove was a backbencher when he wrote his 2017 Times column, which has recently been circulating widely on social media in response to the Daily Mail splashing on stories critical of Labour’s plans to put VAT on private school fees for two day in a row.

Tuesday's Mail: Keir's Class War Threat To 200 Private Schools #TomorrowsPapersToday #DailyMail #Mail

— Tomorrows Papers Today (@TmorrowsPapers) November 28, 2022


In his article Gove said:

Private school fees are VAT-exempt. That tax advantage allows the wealthiest in this country, indeed the very wealthiest in the globe, to buy a prestige service that secures their children a permanent positional edge in society at an effective 20 per cent discount …

The prime minister, quite rightly, wants to end burning injustices in our society. We could scarcely find a better way of doing that than ending tax advantages for the global super-rich and instead extending them to the vulnerable and voiceless. What better way to make next month’s budget a budget for social justice?

The spokesperson claimed he had not seen those comments, but he said the government thought private schools had “an important role” to play. He said they offered targeted bursaries, and worked with local state schools.

  • The spokesperson said that, under the revised online safety bill, it would be up to social media companies to decide how they enforce effective age verification.

Ed Miliband, the shadow secretary for climate change and net zero, accused Grant Shapps of being part of the “dinosaur” tendency in the Conservative party on windfarms.


In exchanges during the statement on Sizewell C, Miliband asked Shapps why he did not clear up the confusion caused by the government’s flip-flopping on the onshore wind ban. He said:



The ban on onshore wind in England that they put in place in 2015 has raised bills for every family in this country by £150 each and keeping the ban in place up to 2030 would mean customers paying £16bn more on bills compared to a target of doubling onshore wind.



Miliband said the public were in favour of onshore wind, but he said the “dinosaurs on the benches opposite oppose clean energy”. And he said Shapps himself was even less supportive of onshore wind than his predecessor, Jacob Rees-Mogg. Shapp’s stance was “making the Victorian of the Tory party look positively on trend”, Miliband said.


In response, Shapps did not say what the government would decide when it agreed a new position on onshore wind. But he defended his preference for offshore by saying new wind turbines were “so big’” they had to go offshore. He told MPs:



These turbines are now so large, they can’t even be constructed onshore. They are so big, the turbines wouldn’t be able to be carried by roads.


They have to be put offshore. How big are they? Well, it’s actually convenient the World Cup is on, he will be able to envisage this.


These single turbines are seven football pitches in scope as they turn. They’re not buildable onshore. It’s one of the reasons why the cheapest way to build them offshore, to produce energy offshore, is to build these mammoth turbines which go together in groups of two or even up to 300.


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Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, has been giving evidence to the House of Lords economic affairs committee. He said that the Bank had no warning of what was going to be in the mini-budget, and that it did not get the usual advance briefing. He told the committee:



We did not know what was going to be in the statement. We had some ideas … but I’m afraid there were parts of it we had no idea what was in it …


There was no formal communication of the sort we normally have and it was a quite extraordinary process in that sense.



My colleague Graeme Wearden has more on our business live blog.

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MPs have voted by a huge majority for a privileges committee investigation into the SNP MP John Nicolson. It started with what seemed to be a minor and technical breach of parliamentary etiquette, but it escalated into quite a row, and one which illustrates faultlines running through the chamber.


It all started when Nicolson wrote to Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker, asking if he would allow a debate on a motion about Nadine Dorries telling the Commons culture committee that Channel 4 faked a reality TV programme when there is no evidence that was true. Nicolson asked Hoyle to allow a debate on a motion saying the privileges committee should investigate her for misleading parliament. But Hoyle said no.


Nicolson then posed this on Twitter, making the whole exchange public.


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SNP MP faces inquiry for exposing how Nadine Dorries avoided

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