Jacob Rees-Mogg warns against 'ill-advised' Tory rebellions

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary, is pictured in the House of Commons on October 26 - David Rose for The Telegraph
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary, is pictured in the House of Commons on October 26 - David Rose for The Telegraph

Jacob Rees-Mogg said rebellions by Tory MPs against the Government are “ill-advised” and ultimately could cost them their seats at the next general election.

The former business secretary said he was “concerned” some of his colleagues are rebelling on issues which should be the “routine business of government”.

He said Tory MPs had behaved similarly ahead of the 1997 general election and “if anything they did slightly worse rather than slightly better”.

He told The Moggcast, a podcast published by the Conservative Home website: “You don't help your own seat by making life difficult for the Government. You just make it more difficult for everybody and so I think these rebellions are ill-advised.”

Urging Tory MPs to back Rishi Sunak, Mr Rees-Mogg said he believes rebellions are now “harder to stop” because it is difficult to tell backbenchers to vote with the Government when “inconvenient bits of the [2019] manifesto have been jettisoned”.

His comments came as Mr Sunak is facing rebellions across a range of policy areas, including on house building targets, the ban on onshore wind farms and the migrant Channel crossings crisis.

You can follow the latest updates below.

04:00 PM

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03:44 PM

Andrew Bailey: Bank of England had 'no idea' what was in parts of mini-Budget

Andrew Bailey, the Governor of the Bank of England, suggested the Bank was largely kept in the dark on what was in Liz Truss's mini-Budget.

He told Parliament's Economic Affairs Committee that "I knew what had been said particularly by the Prime Minister during the leadership campaign" in terms of policies which could be included in the statement.

But he said: "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."

Asked if there was formal communication between the Government and the Bank on what was in the mini-Budget, Mr Bailey said: "There was no formal communication of the sort we normally have and it was a quite extraordinary process in that sense."

03:29 PM

'The more MPs you have got, the more will retire'

Tories should not panic about the number of Conservative MPs who are quitting at the next general election, writes Christopher Hope in today's edition of Chopper's Politics Newsletter (you can sign up here).

William Wragg, Dehenna Davison and Chloe Smith - Conservative critics are enjoying adding up the number of Tory MPs quitting at the next general election.

MPs have been asked to indicate if they wish to stand in the next election by Dec 5, which means this number will have to increase.

So far, 12 Conservative MPs have said they will stand down at the next election, including former party vice-chairman Sir Mike Penning.

However, Penning is relaxed about the numbers leaving, pointing to the last comparable election - 1992, which came after three Tory election wins on the bounce. "It happens," Penning tells me. "In 1992, between 40 and 50 Conservative MPs stood down. The more MPs you have got, the more will retire. It is completely overblown."

03:25 PM

Lack of Stormont Executive 'a cause for alarm'

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said it was "unacceptable and a cause for alarm" that Northern Ireland has not had a fully-functioning devolved administration at Stormont for "the bulk of this year".

Opening the second reading debate in the Commons on the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Bill, he said: "I believe strongly that the people of Northern Ireland deserve a functioning assembly and executive, where locally-elected representatives can address issues that matter most to those who elect them.

"But this has been denied to the people of Northern Ireland since February this year, meaning that Northern Ireland has been without fully-functioning devolved institutions for the bulk of this year.

"That is both unacceptable and a cause for alarm. What the people of Northern Ireland would welcome is getting their devolved institutions up and running."

The Bill is needed in order to formalise the UK Government's decision to delay fresh Stormont elections to the start of next year.

03:03 PM

Poll: Nation split over rail strike action

The nation is split on whether to support the RMT's planned industrial action on the nation's railways in December, according to a new poll.

A YouGov survey found that 47 per cent of people are opposed to the planned strike action while two in five - 41 per cent - said they support the walkouts.

The only age group in clear support of the strikes is 18-24 year olds who back them by 51 per cent to 32 per cent.

The over-65s have the strongest opposition to the strikes: 65 per cent to 27 per cent.

02:26 PM

Chinese firm 'bought out' of Sizewell C involvement

A state-owned Chinese nuclear power company is "no longer involved" in the Sizewell C nuclear power plant project, the Business Secretary has confirmed.

Grant Shapps told the Commons: "I can confirm to him that China are now bought out of the deal on Sizewell and the money yesterday ensured that they are no longer involved in this particular development."

SNP energy spokesman Alan Brown had asked: "Has the Government finally bought out China General Nuclear from the Sizewell C consortium?"

02:20 PM

Ed Miliband criticises Tory 'dinosaurs' over onshore wind ban

Ed Miliband, Labour's shadow climate change secretary, has accused Tory "dinosaurs" of blocking new onshore wind farms.

He told the House of Commons: "The only reason we’re debating this issue is not because the public don’t support it, they do by 78 per cent according to his [Grant Shapps'] department’s own polling.

"It’s because dinosaurs on the benches opposite oppose clean energy. And David Cameron and every leader since has indulged them.

"And the problem is that the Secretary of State who prides himself on being a truly modern man is part of a fossilised tendency."

01:46 PM

Pictured: James Cleverly arrives in Romania for Nato summit

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is pictured today arriving at a Nato summit in Bucharest, Romania - Andreea Alexandru/AP
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is pictured today arriving at a Nato summit in Bucharest, Romania - Andreea Alexandru/AP

01:26 PM

Sir Iain Duncan Smith criticises Rishi Sunak over China stance

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory former leader, said China was guilty of an "endless litany" of "bad behaviour" as he asked why Rishi Sunak had softened his stance on Beijing (see the post below at 08.23).

Mr Sunak had previously spoken of China as a "threat" to the UK but last night said the nation is a "challenge". The Prime Minister said his foreign policy will see the UK stand up to its competitors with "robust pragmatism".

Sir Iain told the Commons: "How is it yesterday the Prime Minister who previously said that China posed a systemic threat has now moved to a systemic challenge and that our strongest policy statement now in terms of our reputation and relationship with China is that we are going to be 'robustly pragmatic'. Could he please explain to me how 'robustly pragmatic' will worry the Chinese any one bit?"

David Rutley, the Foreign Office minister, said: "What the Prime Minister was setting out yesterday is a coordinated and coherent approach where we will be doing more to adapt to China’s growing impact and as he knows we will be revising and updating the integrated review which will help us to invest in our alliances and in the serious capabilities that we need to counter the actions that we see in China’s foreign policy."

01:19 PM

Jacob Rees-Mogg suggests UK should expel Chinese diplomats

The UK Government should consider expelling Chinese diplomats, boosting Britain’s relationship with Taiwan and inviting the Dalai Lama for a formal visit in order to hit back at Beijing following the arrest of a BBC journalist, Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested.

The former business secretary argued that summoning the Chinese ambassador to provide an explanation about the arrest is not sufficient (see the post below at 12.49).

The former business secretary told the House of Commons: “I wonder what effect calling the ambassador in has and whether more doesn’t need to be done urgently that actually has an effect on the Chinese operation in the UK.

“Should we not be looking to expel diplomats, to take tougher action in international forums where Chinese interests are at stake, to do things that the Chinese would not want us to do like improving our relationship with Taiwan or inviting the Dalai Lama on a formal visit by the British Government so that we show that we are not a pushover, we are not going to support the communist running dogs?”

Foreign Office minister David Rutley replied: “This calling in today, these issues will be raised in a very robust manner. Of course safety of our citizens is absolutely key across the world and in China as well.

“So we will raise these issues. In terms of providing a robust, muscular approach, as we have seen given the concerns that have been raised in this House about Uighur minorities sanctions have been put in place, trade guidelines have been put in place and we will continue to take the action that is appropriate to counter what we believe are incorrect practices.”

12:49 PM

UK demands 'full and thorough explanation' from China over arrest of BBC journalist

David Rutley, a Foreign Office minister, has confirmed the Chinese ambassador to the UK has been summoned to the Foreign Office following the arrest of a BBC journalist covering a Covid protest in Shanghai (see the post below at 10.48).

The UK is seeking a "full and thorough explanation" over the "wholly unacceptable situation".

Mr Rutley told the House of Commons during an urgent question on the subject: "The arrest of the BBC journalist while covering the recent protest in Shanghai is a deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable situation.

"Journalists must be able to do their job without fear of arrest or intimidation. The BBC have stated that the journalist was beaten and kicked by the police during his arrest and was held for several hours before being released.

"In response we are calling in the Chinese ambassador to make clear the unacceptable and unwarranted nature of these actions, the importance of freedom of speech and to demand a full and thorough explanation."

12:26 PM

No10 'not aware of any announcements' coming on onshore wind

Michelle Donelan, the Culture Secretary, said this morning that "the Government is listening to colleagues" on onshore wind and "I am sure that there will be some announcements made by the Levelling Up Secretary in the days to come" (see the post below at 08.28).

Those comments were viewed as the firmest hint yet that the Government will perform a climbdown on the ban on new onshore projects. However, No10 did not appear to know anything about any such announcement.

Downing Street was asked at lunchtime if it recognised the timetable set out by Ms Donelan. The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said: "I will have to check with the department. I am not aware of any announcements coming this week."

12:18 PM

No10 defends Cabinet focus on 'innovation'

Downing Street has defended the focus on "innovation" at this morning's Cabinet meeting at a time when the UK is facing numerous major challenges.

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman said: "I think there has been large reporting on the importance of economic growth and innovation is the key driver to that so I think the public would understand why there was a focus on that in Cabinet.”

Asked why there was seemingly no discussion on public sector strikes or the situation in Ukraine, the spokesman said: "I don’t think anyone can be in any doubt about the amount of time the Government is spending on both of those issues."

12:09 PM

Cabinet meeting focuses on 'innovation'

Rishi Sunak convened a meeting of his Cabinet in 10 Downing Street this morning.

No10 said ministers discussed the "importance of science, technology and innovation to the UK with the Prime Minister saying he wanted it to be a defining focus for the Government".

Mr Sunak said that "innovation permeates every part of people’s lives and has the power to further transform our public services".

Grant Shapps, the Business Secretary, told the meeting "that since 2010 the UK had seen the third highest growth in the G7, but that innovation would be key to going further".

Mr Shapps "highlighted the upcoming launch at the UK’s first spaceport as an area where the UK is leading the way in Europe".

11:41 AM

Foreign Affairs Select Committee visits Taiwan

MPs on a prominent Commons committee are visiting Taiwan from today and will meet dignitaries over the next few days amid strained UK relations with China.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee said its members will be on the island, which China claims as its territory, until Saturday.

Tory MP Alicia Kearns, the chairwoman of the Committee said: "This visit to Taiwan has long been a priority for the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"The UK is fortunate to enjoy strong cultural and trading ties with Taiwan, fostering shared ambitions on clean energy, education, advanced new technologies and more."

11:25 AM

Jacob Rees-Mogg: Tory rebellions are 'ill-advised'

Jacob Rees-Mogg said Tory rebellions in the House of Commons are now "harder to stop" as he warned failure to support Rishi Sunak on "the routine business of government"  could cost the Conservative Party the next general election.

The former business secretary was asked during an appearance on The Moggcast podcast published by the Conservative Home website if he believed there is now an out of control culture of rebellion on the Tory backbenches.

He said: "I am concerned that people are voting on things that are against the Government that are on the routine business of government and I think one owes the party leadership support on the routine business of government and people need to remember from 1997 that people thought by showing how independent-minded they were they would help themselves in their own constituencies.

"If anything they did slightly worse rather than slightly better. You don't help your own seat by making life difficult for the Government. You just make it more difficult for everybody and so I think these rebellions are ill-advised.

"Are they out of control? You have done the studies, you have reported on the studies that rebellion has been getting bigger since the 1950s and seems to be getting further and further.

"It is harder to stop under current circumstances for a number of reasons, partly the mandate. The mandate is important and the mandate was Boris's and therefore it is hard to turnaround and say you must vote for this because it was in the manifesto when inconvenient bits of the manifesto have been jettisoned..."

11:13 AM

Truss premiership will be remembered for its 'brevity'

Liz Truss's premiership will be remembered for its "brevity", Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.

The former business secretary told The Moggcast podcast published by the Conservative Home website: "It will be remembered for being the shortest premiership in British history, beating Canning. One has to be realistic about what things will be remembered for."

He added: "In seven weeks the only thing of note is the brevity of it."

11:04 AM

Jacob Rees-Mogg: Truss should not have U-turned on mini-Budget

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary, has suggested Liz Truss should have stuck to her guns on the mini-Budget, arguing that the U-turns which followed "made it all worse".

Speaking on The Moggcast podcast published by the Conservative Home website, Mr Rees-Mogg said: "I think once it had been done actually the U-turns made it all worse and that once it had been done it was important to bring forward the next stage, the spending cuts that were going to come and the supply side reforms to try and build the package rather than start unpicking stage one."

Asked if he believed the U-turns could have been avoided, he said: "I thought cutting the cut, reversing the 45p decision, didn't need to happen. It didn't make any difference to the markets, it didn't make any difference to the budget deficit. It was a trivial rounding error in the Government's accounts. All it did was show that the Government was not firm of purpose."

10:48 AM

Foreign Office summons Chinese ambassador after BBC journalist 'beaten'

China’s ambassador to the UK has been summoned to the Foreign Office amid a diplomatic row over the arrest and alleged beating of a BBC journalist covering Covid protests in Shanghai, a Government source said.

The broadcaster said yesterday that cameraman Edward Lawrence was “handcuffed” while covering demonstrations and was then “beaten and kicked” by police.

Downing Street said the arrest was “shocking and unacceptable”.

10:36 AM

Poll: Tories trail Labour by 23 points

Rishi Sunak has now been Prime Minister for one month and a new survey has suggested he is struggling to right the ship in terms of the Tories' poor poll ratings.

A YouGov poll conducted on November 22-23 has put the Tories on 25 per cent of the vote, 23 points behind the Labour Party which is on 48 per cent.

The Tories are actually down by one point when compared with the previous poll conducted in the middle of November while Labour is up one point.

10:32 AM

Mark Harper 'can see scope for agreement' on rail dispute

The Transport Secretary has made it clear his role is to "facilitate and support" a deal between rail unions and train operators in the long-running rail dispute over pay and conditions rather than get involved in actual negotiations.

Mark Harper wrote to Mick Lynch, the leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), following a meeting last week which the minister described as "constructive and positive".

Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, arrives in Downing Street this morning - Leon Neal /Getty Images Europe
Mark Harper, the Transport Secretary, arrives in Downing Street this morning - Leon Neal /Getty Images Europe

He wrote: "We both agree the industrial dispute on the railways has gone on too long. It’s bad for your members, losing out on pay and overtime, bad for businesses who depend on trains to bring them goods and customers and bad for people across our country who depend on the railways.

"Worse, disruption pushes more and more people away from using the railways, some of whom will never come back. We both want a long-term sustainable railway that provides both great service and rewarding jobs. Every day’s industrial action makes that harder to deliver."

He added: "My role is to facilitate and support – not negotiate. Negotiations will continue between trade unions and employers, but I can see scope for agreement."

10:18 AM

Tory housing rebellion grows to 60

The number of Tory rebels who have signed an amendment urging the Government to repeal housing targets has hit 60 this morning, writes Dominic Penna.

New signatures to appear in the past 24 hours include Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary, and John Whittingdale, the veteran MP for Maldon.

Theresa Villiers, who laid the amendment, and Bob Seely, the MP for the Isle of Wight, have been discussing compromise options with the Government.

"Everyone is talking in good faith, and options are being looked at, but the numbers of those concerned about the effects of top-down targets is growing," Mr Seely told The Telegraph. "We’re looking to agree, but nothing is finalised yet."

10:05 AM

Sizewell C nuclear power plant going ahead

The Government has confirmed the go-ahead for the new Sizewell C nuclear power plant in Suffolk, backing the scheme with a £700 million stake.

The move, which ministers said would create 10,000 highly skilled jobs and provide reliable low-carbon power to the equivalent of six million homes for more than 50 years, is part of efforts to secure UK energy security.

The Government also said it would set up an arms-length body, Great British Nuclear, which would develop a pipeline of nuclear projects beyond Sizewell C.

The plant in Suffolk, developed by French energy giant EDF, will be the second of a new generation of nuclear power reactors, after the delayed Hinkley Point C scheme in Somerset which is under construction, but has seen costs climb since it was first given the go-ahead.

09:59 AM

Pictured: Suella Braverman arrives in Downing Street this morning

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, is pictured arriving in Downing Street this morning - James Manning/PA
Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, is pictured arriving in Downing Street this morning - James Manning/PA

09:27 AM

'If we have a strike it is their fault'

NHS strikes this winter will be entirely the "fault" of the Government, a Labour frontbencher has claimed.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow work and pensions secretary, told Sky News: "If we have a strike in the NHS this winter we know it will be absolutely terrible and the ball is in the Government's court.

"If we have a strike it is their fault for not gripping this situation now."

08:56 AM

Labour on nurses' 17% pay rise demand: 'Nurses are going to have to negotiate'

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow work and pensions secretary, has suggested the Royal College of Nursing will need to compromise on its demands for a 17 per cent pay rise as he said "the nurses are going to have to negotiate".

Asked what Labour would do about the proposed strike action, he told Sky News: "Those strikes are a symptom of the economic failure that we are currently experiencing. You have got 12 years of low economic growth which in turn has meant 12 years of wage squeezes.

"That is why workers are going on strike because they want fair pay settlements in the face of this raging inflation."

Asked specifically about the nurses' 17 per cent pay demand, he said: "Well, the nurses are going to have to negotiate. The Health Secretary has said 'my door is always open'. That is a kind of passive response. The Health Secretary should, Steve Barclay, he should get the nurses in and he should negotiate with them in good faith and I think there is a deal to be done."

Asked if Labour would agree to a 17 per cent pay rise for nurses if it was in power, Mr Ashworth said: "I think there are eight different pay bands that nurses are under and one of the pay bands has four different bits within it so it is a very complicated payment structure across the different pay bands. There must be a way of doing a deal within that."

08:48 AM

Government 'rebalancing' its Online Safety Bill

The Government is "rebalancing" its Online Safety Bill with "common sense approaches", the Culture Secretary has said.

Michelle Donelan told LBC Radio: "We are removing the legal but harmful (duties), which would have led to unintended consequences and have an erosion of free speech.

"Whereas we’re rebalancing this for some common-sense approaches."

You can read the full story on the latest changes made to the Bill here.

08:43 AM

World is 'watching and waiting' for UK to deliver online safety laws - minister

The Government is today publishing a range of changes it has made to its flagship online safety legislation.

Michelle Donelan, the Culture Secretary, said the rest of the world is "watching and waiting" for the UK to deliver the reforms, with politicians overseas keen to use it as a "blueprint".

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."

08:40 AM

Cabinet minister insists Rishi Sunak is in control of Conservative Party

A Cabinet minister has sought to down play the Tory rebellions Rishi Sunak is facing across a range of issues including on onshore wind farms, housebuilding targets and the migrant Channel crossings crisis.

Michelle Donelan was asked during an interview on GB News if Mr Sunak is in control of his party and she said: "We are certainly not seeing rebellions across the board on a multitude of issues.

"What we are seeing is Conservative MPs are passionate about their communities, they are passionate about the areas they care about and they are prepared to stand up and ask questions to ministers.

"Surely that is what we want of responsible members of Parliament."

08:34 AM

What did Rishi Sunak say about China during the Tory leadership race?

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08:33 AM

'There are tweaks sometimes made to Bills'

Michelle Donelan, the Culture Secretary, said "tweaks" are "sometimes made to Bills" in a further hint that the Government will perform a climbdown on the ban on new onshore wind farms.

She told GB News: "Members from around the House put down amendments, including senior members of Parliament, and then there are discussions between ministers and those members.

"And there are tweaks sometimes made to Bills, sometimes people stand their amendment down because they haven’t realised the other elements of the legislation. It’s all part of the legislative process."

08:28 AM

Cabinet minister gives firmest hint yet on onshore wind climbdown

A Cabinet minister has given the firmest hint yet that the Government is preparing a climbdown on onshore wind.

Rebel Tory MPs have tabled an amendment to the Levelling Up Bill which would end the de facto ban on new on shore wind farm projects.

Michelle Donelan, the Culture Secretary, said the Government is "listening" to MPs on the amendment and she is "sure" Michael Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary will make an announcement on it "in the days to come".

She told GB News: "I agree with the Prime Minister on this. He has always said that when it comes to green energy and it comes to tackling climate change we have got to take people with us, we have got to take communities with us, that is how we really progress this agenda.

"Those were his words at Cop and that is the sentiment that he shares now. The Government is listening to colleagues around this amendment and I am sure that there will be some announcements made by the Levelling Up Secretary in the days to come."

08:25 AM

Michelle Donelan: UK 'can't ignore China'

Michelle Donelan said the UK "can't ignore" China but Britain must have its "eyes open" to the "strategic risk" posed by Beijing.

She told GB News: "Well, this is something that Rishi has spoken about for a long time, it is something that he spoke about during the campaign in the summer as well and if you look at the words that he said last night he was very clear that we can’t ignore China, they are massive global player.

"But at the same time do they present a strategic risk? Yes, of course they do and we need to have our eyes open to that and we will be updating the integrated review in the spring."

08:23 AM

Minister defends Rishi Sunak after PM fails to label China a 'threat'

Rishi Sunak last night said that China poses a "challenge" to the UK but he did not repeat past comments that Beijing is a "threat".

Michelle Donelan, the Culture Secretary, was asked this morning why Mr Sunak had softened his position and she claimed it was simply a matter of "semantics".

She told Sky News: "I think we can get a little bit hung up on the semantics here but what he said last night was it does present strategic challenges and he talked about the fact that we have got to have our eyes open, we can’t forget the fact, or underestimate the fact, that they are a massive global player and that we do need to engage with them.

"But at the same time we have got to do that as I say with our eyes open. They do present strategic challenges and we will be updating the integrated review in the spring."

Told that Mr Sunak had described China as a "threat" during the Tory leadership contest, Ms Donelan said: "I think we are a little bit talking of semantics here. Threat, challenge, they are very similar language…"

08:20 AM

Good morning

Good morning and welcome to today's politics live blog.

Rishi Sunak's first big foreign policy speech, delivered at the Guildhall in London last night, is making waves this morning, in particular what he said about China.

Michelle Donelan, the Culture Secretary, is on the morning media round for the Government and she has been explaining what the PM said.

Let's start by looking at what she said in her early interviews.