Rishi Sunak warns against ‘simplistic Cold War rhetoric’ on China at Lord Mayor’s Banquet
Rishi Sunak declared that the UK’s “golden era” of ties with China was over as he described Beijing’s move “towards even greater authoritarianism” as a “systemic challenge to our values and interests”.
Referring to Beijing’s handling of widespread protests across China against the country’s strict “zero Covid” strategy, Mr Sunak said that “instead of listening to their people’s protests, the Chinese government has chosen to crack down further, including by assaulting a BBC journalist”.
The prime minister, however, stopped short of calling China a threat in his first major foreign policy speech, drawing backlash from Labour and Conservative MPs for “flip-flopping” on the rhetoric against the country.
Mr Sunak warned against “simplistic Cold War rhetoric” on China, and insisted he would continue to employ “diplomacy and engagement” in his dealings with the Communist-run state.
In the annual foreign policy address to the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London, he promised an “evolutionary leap” in the UK’s approach to repressive regimes around the world, which he said would be characterised by “robust pragmatism”.
World is ‘watching and waiting’ for UK to deliver new Online Safety Bill
The rest of the world is “watching and wating” for the UK to deliver its new online safety legislation, with politicians overseas keen to use it as a “blueprint” for their own, the culture secretary has said.
Michelle Donelan said many tech companies may be international, but they will have to face the “ramifications” of British law if they fall foul of the new rules.
She told GB News: “We’re certainly not working in isolation. In fact, the rest of the world is watching and waiting for us to do this legislation.
“I’ve spoken to many ministers and counterparts across the globe who have said that they are interested in using our legislation as the blueprint for their own.
“And when it comes to these corporations, yes, they’re international, the vast majority of them have huge footprints in the UK, they hire a lot of people, but they will have to face the ramifications of British law, they will be subject to these fines if they fail the legislation.
“And they certainly know this Bill is coming. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve had many conversations with them, so have my predecessors. The writing is on the wall now.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain29 November 2022 07:30
Labour criticised for ditching commitment to start Black wing of party
Labour has been criticised for “abandoning” a commitment to start a Black, Asian and minority ethnic wing of the party in its new plan to promote diversity.
On Tuesday, the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) will meet to discuss proposals to revive “BAME Labour”, a membership fee-charging body affiliated to the party, that its own internal report previously warned did not support the representation of minority ethnic members in decision-making.
But members are warning that this falls short of the 2018 pledge to implement a BAME National committee which would be embedded within the party itself and able to work with the NEC to drive forward inclusion and representation. Planned committees for LGBT+ and disabled groups have also been shelved.
Our race correspondent Nadine White has more in this exclusive:
Namita Singh29 November 2022 07:20
Rishi Sunak hints at U-turn over onshore wind farm ban
Rishi Sunak is believed to be close to a compromise to allow a new generation of onshore wind farms, as he battles to stave off a rebellion by Tory MPs including Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
Downing Street fuelled expectations of a U-turn by saying the PM wants to “engage” with 30 Conservatives backing proposed changes to the law to lift the effective ban on turbines on land.
And business secretary Grant Shapps, who is understood to have argued the case for compromise in cabinet, made clear he expects a shift in policy by declaring that “there will be more onshore power in the future”.
Read the details in this joint report from Andrew Woodcock and Saphora Smith:
Namita Singh29 November 2022 07:05
Rail industry warning over ‘spiral of decline’
A failure to attract more customers to the railway risks a permanently smaller network, an industry body has warned.
Rail Partners, which represents independent passenger and freight train operators, published a report urging the government to take urgent action to “avoid a spiral of decline”.
It wants operators to be given more influence on key issues such as timetabling, marketing and fares.
Read more in this report:
Namita Singh29 November 2022 06:57
Tony Blair praises Matt Hancock for ‘courageous’ decision to appear on ‘I’m a Celebrity’
Sir Tony Blair has praised former Tory health secretary Matt Hancock for his “courage” in taking the controversial decision to spend three weeks in the Australian jungle filming ITV’s I’m A Celebrity while a remaining a sitting MP.
Voting by the British public saw Mr Hancock take third place in the reality TV show – but he now returns to Westminster to face angry colleagues and constituents, having been publicly rebuked by prime minister Rishi Sunak and stripped of the Tory whip for taking part.
The pandemic-era minister resigned after being caught breaking his own health guidance during a romantic affair with an aide, and caused consternation among the hundreds of thousands left bereaved by Covid-19 with his decision to enter the jungle as a “celebrity” contestant the following year.
My colleague Andy Gregory reports:
Namita Singh29 November 2022 06:50
Failure to adapt to climate change poses ‘significant and growing risks’ to UK
A failure to adapt to the impact of climate change will threaten the UK’s economy, health and countryside, the head of the Environment Agency is warning.
The government agency’s chief executive, Sir James Bevan, will use a speech to the Institute for Government to warn that the longer action is delayed on adaptation, the bigger the bill that will be handed to our children.
“This is not what the next generation need on top of the rising cost of living,” he will warn.
Measures to adapt to the changing climate range from flood defences to protect against the increased risk of flooding, to planting trees to keep cities cooler in the face of heatwaves, and developing more heat-resistant crops.
But Sir James will warn that while a focus on tackling climate change has helped drive progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to its impact has been the “Cinderella” of climate action, and efforts have been too slow.
He will highlight concerns that the UK has so far failed to adapt much of its critical infrastructure to the climate emergency, threatening the country’s security and prosperity.
He will also say that while the UK government has a leading role to play in adaptation, the private sector will also need to invest in making the UK more resilient to rising temperatures.
Namita Singh29 November 2022 06:42
Give workers right to request four-day week with no pay cut, unions and MPs say
The government should give workers the legal right to request a four-day working week from their employers with no loss of pay, MPs and unions have urged.
It comes as businesses across the country pilot or switch to a four-day week, amid emerging evidence it is good for productivity and staff wellbeing.
In a letter to business minister Kevin Hollinrake, the MPs and trade unionists said the five-day week was “no longer conducive to the needs of the 21st century”, having been created over 100 years ago for an “unrecognisable” industrial and agricultural economy.
Our policy correspondent Jon Stone reports:
Namita Singh29 November 2022 06:35
Home office looking at asylum ‘safe’ list to combat channel crisis – report
The government is reviewing plans to fast-track the removal of asylum seekers from designated “safe” countries in an effort to tackle the channel migrant crisis, it has been reported.
According to The Times, home secretary Suella Braverman is looking at resurrecting a list of countries deemed by the home office to be safe.
Asylum claims of citizens from those countries would largely be regarded as unfounded, unless they are able to provide contrasting evidence. There would be no right to appeal for rejected claimants.
Read the details in this report:
Namita Singh29 November 2022 06:27
Sunak’s cabinet office has largest gender pay gap of all government departments
The gap between the earnings of male and female staff in the department rose by more than two-thirds from April 2021 to March 2022 – increasing from 9.8 to 16.6 per cent, according to a new government report.
Bonuses women were paid in 2022 in the cabinet office were lower than those men pocketed by an average of around £783.
Read the details in this report from our women’s correspondent Maya Oppenheim:
Namita Singh29 November 2022 06:20
Don’t forget Ukraine’s ‘tragedy’ this Christmas, says first lady
People should not forget the war in Ukraine this Christmas, the country’s first lady has said ahead of a speech to MPs today.
Olena Zelenska is expected to address MPs and peers today as she visits London, days after Rishi Sunak made his first visit as prime minister to Kyiv to meet Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Zelenska will urge the British public not to forget the “tragedy” of the Russian invasion amid the festive season.
She also praised the UK’s vocal support for the Ukrainian resistance efforts against Vladimir Putin’s forces, as the country braces for winter.
She told the programme: “We feel that [strong support] by the aid for our forcefully displaced people, by the political and financial assistance and by humanitarian…
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