Nicola Sturgeon accused of focusing '24 hours a day' on Indyref2

·32 min read
Nicola Sturgeon speaks during a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh yesterday - Reuters
Nicola Sturgeon speaks during a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh yesterday - Reuters

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of focusing "seven days a week, sometimes what feels like 24 hours a day" on her new push for Scottish independence as her political opponents claimed she is neglecting domestic issues.

Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, pointed to cancer care waiting times in Scotland as he suggested Ms Sturgeon is prioritising the wrong things.

Speaking at First Minister's Questions at Holyrood, Mr Sarwar said: "The recovery hasn’t even started yet, in fact things have got worse. Instead we have gone back to the divisive Nicola Sturgeon who is now spending seven days a week, sometimes what feels like 24 hours a day focusing on what she cares about, breaking up our country and dividing our people, not rebuilding it.”

Ms Sturgeon rejected the criticism and claimed Mr Sarwar "wants to back up the Conservatives" by opposing independence.

She said: “I want to free Scotland from the Conservatives because the worst thing that could ever happen to our NHS is to continue to have Conservative governments cutting the budget of this government and this parliament. That is why having the powers of independence is good for our country, including our national health service.”

Ms Sturgeon wants to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence next year and she has pencilled in the date of October 19. However, it remains unclear if Holyrood can hold the vote without the permission of the UK Government, with the Supreme Court having been asked to rule on the matter.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

04:00 PM

That is all for today...

Thank you for joining me for today's politics live blog.

I will be back early tomorrow morning.

03:43 PM

Labour criticises PM over defence spending pledge

Boris Johnson announced at his Nato press conference earlier today that the UK will  spend 2.5 per cent of GDP on defence by the end of this decade - significantly above the Nato target of two per cent (see the post below at 12.58).

Labour's shadow defence secretary John Healey has accused ministers of "rowing in public" about defence spending and said Mr Johnson will not be "around to keep this 2030 pledge".

Mr Healey said: “Britain deserves better than Ministers rowing in public over defence spending throughout this Nato summit. We should have seen UK leadership as Nato acts to strengthen European defences.

“With war in Europe and the threats growing, Britain needs to reboot defence planning now - not duck difficult decisions until the end of the decade. No one thinks the Prime Minister will be around to keep this 2030 pledge.”

03:36 PM

Nadine Dorries confuses rugby league with rugby union

Nadine Dorries confused rugby league with rugby union while delivering a speech at a rugby league event today.

Speaking in St Helens at the launch of a report into the social impact made by the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, the Culture Secretary opened her address with a reference to Jonny Wilkinson’s match-winning drop goal for England in the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup.

“I’ve always quite liked the idea of rugby league,” she said. “My long-standing memory is that 2003 drop goal.

“I’ll let you into a secret. I think we were drinking Bloody Mary’s at the time. It was 11 o’clock in the morning but wow what a moment that was.”

Ms Dorries later joked in a tweet that she had accidentally "switched codes" during her speech:

03:30 PM

Sadiq Khan faces inquiry

Sadiq Khan is facing an official investigation into his conduct after he announced the opening date of the new Crossrail commuter line a day before the local elections.

Transport for London confirmed on May 4 that the new line, which is also known as the Elizabeth Line, would operate in the capital from May 24.

Mr Khan's press office issued a statement on his behalf moments later, expressing his delight “that our world-class new Elizabeth Line will be opening to passengers later this month”.

This prompted Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, to complain to the Greater London Authority (GLA) and the Electoral Commission.

You can read the full story here.

03:10 PM

Ministers make major changes to Schools Bill

The Government has confirmed it is removing large sections from its controversial Schools Bill following a backlash in the House of Lords where peers argued the legislation would undermine the autonomy of academies.

In a letter to the Lords, academies minister Baroness Barran said that the Government would be removing a number of clauses from the Bill, including ones which would have introduced new standards that all academies would need to follow and extend the rules for maintained schools to academies.

Headteachers had warned the proposals represented a Whitehall "power-grab" and an attempt to centralise control of academies.

The Telegraph reported overnight that the Government was set to make the move. You can read the original story here.

02:55 PM

PM's defence pledge is 'too little too late'

Tobias Ellwood, the Tory chairman of the Defence Select Committee, has described Boris Johnson's pledge to increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by the end of the decade as "too little too late" (see the post below at 12.58).

Mr Ellwood, who earlier today said in the House of Commons that the Government should hold a vote on reversing planned cuts to the armed forces (see the post below at 11.28), said: "This is NOT the time to cut the Army by 10,000. My request to Government. And moving to 2.5% defence spend by 2030 is too little too late."

02:48 PM

'There’s no place like home'

The conclusion of the Nato summit in Madrid brings Boris Johnson's week-long trip away from the UK to a close.

He started with a visit to Rwanda for a Commonwealth summit - he arrived in Kigali last Thursday -  before heading to Germany for the G7 and then finally onto Spain.

The trip got off to a difficult start as the Tories lost two by-elections and Oliver Dowden quit as Conservative Party chairman last Friday - all while Mr Johnson was 4,000 miles away.

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is pictured leaving the stage after his press conference at the Nato summit in Madrid today - Reuters
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is pictured leaving the stage after his press conference at the Nato summit in Madrid today - Reuters

Those losses reignited questions about the PM's long term future in No 10 and he will be arriving back in Westminster this afternoon knowing that he still has a lot of work to do to stabilise his premiership.

Mr Johnson was asked at his Nato press conference this afternoon if he is looking forward to returning to the UK after eight days away and he said: “Yes, I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to get … not that … it’s been wonderful being here in Madrid, as I’ve enjoyed being in Kigali and Germany. But there’s no place like home – so I’m keen to get back.”

01:56 PM

Pictured: PM 'left hanging' by Joe Biden

The Nato summit in Madrid has almost finished and the leaders are starting to head home.

There is a good chance this photograph will make a lot of the papers tomorrow. Boris Johnson appeared to offer a fist bump to Joe Biden during a meeting this morning but it seems the PM may have been left hanging.

Boris Johnson appears to offer Joe Biden a fist bump during a meeting at the Nato summit in Madrid - Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
Boris Johnson appears to offer Joe Biden a fist bump during a meeting at the Nato summit in Madrid - Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

01:46 PM

Gordon Brown: UK is 'at war with America over Ireland'

Gordon Brown, the Labour former prime minister, has claimed the UK is "at war with America over Ireland" as he said the US will never sign a trade deal with Britain while a Brexit row rumbles on.

A number of US politicians have expressed warnings over the UK's plan to unilaterally override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol which governs post-Brexit trade in the province.

Mr Brown told Sky News: "If we cannot repair our relations with Europe and America and we are at war if you like with both of them for different reasons but all related to [Northern Ireland]..."

Asked why the UK is at war with the US, Mr Brown said: "We are at war with America over Ireland because America will not sign a trade treaty with Britain as long as we cannot sort out the issues related to Ireland.”

Mr Brown was told that Joe Biden, the US President, had previously suggested there is no link between the Northern Ireland row and a US trade deal.

But Mr Brown said: “He may think that but the American Congress will not think that. There is no chance of a trade deal between Britain and America unless we can sort out the problems that arise in Ireland.”

01:32 PM

Boris Johnson grilled on tax cuts

Almost two million people have been pushed into paying higher and additional rate tax since the last general election (you can read the full story here).

Since 2019, the number of people paying 40pc or 45pc tax has risen from 4.25 million to more than 6.1 million workers, official figures from HM Revenue & Customs have shown.

Boris Johnson was asked during his Nato press conference in Madrid when the Government will cut tax rates and if it will be this year.

The Prime Minister replied: "Of course, we always want to try to reduce burdens but we have to do it in a sensible and a responsible way.”

01:11 PM

Shadow minister quits

01:09 PM

PM refuses to be drawn on Putin's shirtless jibe

Boris Johnson has told Vladimir Putin that allies are “appalled and repelled” by his behaviour as he refused to be drawn on the Russian President suggesting Western leaders look “disgusting” topless (see the post below at 13.08).

Speaking from the Nato conference in Madrid, the Prime Minister said: “He should think about the consequences of his barbaric actions, the way his invasion has actually brought the West together, Nato G7, EU, look at the way people have come together.

“If he wanted less Nato on his borders by getting into Ukraine, which by the way it was never remotely likely that Ukraine was going to join Nato any time in the foreseeable future, everybody knew that, it was completely mythical.

“But, instead, what he’s got is Sweden and Finland breaking their historic vows of neutrality because they’re so appalled and repelled by his violence and aggression. I think that is an absolutely devastating comment on what he’s done and his behaviour.”

01:08 PM

Putin: Topless Boris Johnson and Justin Trudeau would be 'disgusting sight'

Boris Johnson would be a “disgusting sight” with his shirt off, Vladimir Putin has said, as the pair traded insults over the war in Ukraine.

The Russian President responded to Mr Johnson mocking him at the G7 summit earlier this week, where he joked about taking his jacket off to emulate Mr Putin’s topless photo opportunities.

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, and Mr Johnson joked they should remove their jackets at the summit and “show them our pecs”.

Speaking to reporters, Mr Putin retorted that if Mr Johnson was to take his shirt off, it would be a “disgusting sight”."

You can read the full story here.

01:04 PM

UK must support Ukraine 'no matter how difficult it may be'

Boris Johnson has vowed to continue to intensify military support for Ukraine and support Kyiv “no matter how difficult it may be”.

He told a press conference at the end of the Nato summit in Madrid: “It is only logical and right to continue to support Ukraine in the way that we are and, indeed, to continue to intensify that military support.

“I think the right thing for us is to keep going on the course that Nato set out, no matter how difficult it may be.”

01:02 PM

'Cost of freedom' is 'always worth paying'

The “cost of freedom” is “always worth paying”, Boris Johnson has said, amid spiralling inflation exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking from the Nato conference in Madrid, the Prime Minister said: “The point I would make about the cost of freedom, as it were, is actually it’s always worth paying.

“Unless we get the right result in Ukraine, Putin will be in a position to commit further acts of aggression against other parts of the former Soviet Union, more or less with impunity, that will drive further global uncertainty, further oil shocks, further panics and more economic distress for the whole world.”

01:01 PM

PM: West must 'explode myths' about Ukraine war

Boris Johnson has warned that the West must “explode some myths” about its role in the Ukraine war.

“We have to explode the myths of Western sanctions are in some way responsible for western price spikes," he told journalists at a Nato press conference in Madrid.

“It is the Russian invasion that has caused the shortages of food.”

01:00 PM

Boris Johnson praises Ukraine for re-taking Snake Island

Russia has said their forces have withdrawn from Snake Island in a move that could be pivotal in ending the blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports (you can read the full story here).

Boris Johnson praised the Ukrainians for having taken back Snake Island.

Speaking from the Nato conference in Madrid, the Prime Minister said: “If you wanted evidence of the amazing ability of the Ukrainians to fight back, to overcome adversity, and to repel the Russians, then look at what has happened just today on Snake Island where Russia has to cede ground.”

12:58 PM

PM: Defence spend to rise to 2.5 per cent of GDP

Boris Johnson is holding a press conference in Madrid, Spain, as the Nato summit draws to a close.

The Prime Minister announced that the UK will spend 2.5 per cent of GDP on defence by the end of this decade - significantly above the Nato target of two per cent.

Boris Johnson is pictured holding a press conference in Madrid, Spain, today - Stefan Rousseau /PA
Boris Johnson is pictured holding a press conference in Madrid, Spain, today - Stefan Rousseau /PA

Speaking from the Nato conference in Madrid, the Prime Minister said: “We need to invest for the long-term in vital capabilities like future combat air whilst simultaneously adapting to a more dangerous and more competitive world.

“The logical conclusion of the investments on which we propose to embark, these decisions, is that we’ll reach 2.5% of GDP on defence by the end of the decade.”

12:33 PM

Nicola Sturgeon's SNP will no longer send money to Ukraine for weapons

Nicola Sturgeon's ministers have said no more of their money should be given to the Ukraine for weapons after being pressured by the Treasury to hand over £65 million.

Kate Forbes, the Scottish Finance Secretary, said she had agreed to provide the money "on this occasion" but lashed out at the Treasury, making clear "this must not be seen as any kind of precedent."

Her comments were echoed by Rebecca Evans, her Welsh counterpart, who complained she had been forced to donate £30 million of money  earmarked for "devolved areas, like health and education."

But the Treasury "strongly disagreed" with her characterisation of the request, saying government departments across Whitehall had also been asked to make a contribution through their underspend.

You can read the full story here.

12:28 PM

Labour accuses Nicola Sturgeon of focusing '24 hours a day' on Indyref2

Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, said that Nicola Sturgeon had promised to tackle the issue of cancer waiting times a year ago but "things have got worse".

He said: "Instead we have gone back to the divisive Nicola Sturgeon who is now spending seven days a week, sometimes what feels like 24 hours a day focusing on what she cares about, breaking up our country and dividing our people, not rebuilding it."

Ms Sturgeon said that in the period Mr Sarwar referenced "there have been three further waves of a pandemic".

The SNP leader accused Mr Sarwar of "backing up the Conservatives" by opposing independence.

She said: "I want to free Scotland from the Conservatives because the worst thing that could ever happen to our NHS is to continue to have Conservative governments cutting the budget of this government and this parliament. That is why having the powers of independence is good for our country, including our national health service."

12:20 PM

Anas Sarwar and Nicola Sturgeon clash over cancer care target

Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, said that new statistics published this week showed the "worst cancer waiting times on record" in Scotland.

He asked Nicola Sturgeon "how many patients have missed the 62 day standard for starting cancer treatment".

The SNP leader admitted that the 62 day target is "not being met" in all cases but she stressed that the number of people in treatment is increasing.

Mr Sarwar said the answer to his question is 3,057. That is the number of people who have "not started their treatment on time". He said the problem predates the Covid pandemic.

12:15 PM

Douglas Ross accuses SNP of 'campaigning' instead of 'governing'

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, accused Nicola Sturgeon of being "on a different planet" when it comes to policing in Scotland.

He said the First Minister has taken her "eye off the ball here". He claimed that "policing and justice is clearly not a priority any more".

Mr Ross said rising crime is the "consequence of a distracted Government" and it is what happens "when campaigning is put ahead of governing".

Ms Sturgeon rejected the claims made by Mr Ross as she said crime levels "are at their lowest level I think since 1974".

Amid heckling from opposition MSPs, Ms Sturgeon said "the answers don't suit the narrative of the Scottish Conservatives".

12:09 PM

'Frontline officers don't believe policing is a priority for you'

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, asked Nicola Sturgeon if she accepts that "frontline officers don't believe policing is a priority for you and your government".

Ms Sturgeon said she takes the views of frontline police officers "very seriously indeed" but she suggested the picture painted by Mr Ross was not an accurate one.

She said the starting salary for police officers is higher in Scotland than it is in England and Wales.

Mr Ross hit back and said the "facts are clear" on whether policing is a priority for the SNP as he said officer numbers are at their "lowest levels since 2008".

12:04 PM

Douglas Ross challenges Nicola Sturgeon on police funding

FMQs is now underway at Holyrood.

Douglas Ross, the Scottish Tory leader, used his first question to ask Nicola Sturgeon if policing is a "priority" for the Scottish Government.

Ms Sturgeon said policing is "very clearly a priority for this government". She said Holyrood is constrained in terms of how much money it can spend on policing by the funding it is provided with by Westminster.

The SNP leader said if Mr Ross would like to see more money spent on policing then he should speak to his "boss at Westminster".

11:58 AM

FMQs minutes away

First Minister's Questions at Holyrood is now just a matter of minutes away.

Nicola Sturgeon is likely to face a grilling over her plan to hold another referendum on Scottish independence next year.

The Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems have all slammed the SNP leader for reigniting her push to breakaway from the UK.

11:54 AM

Former SNP MP Natalie McGarry jailed for two years for embezzlement

A former SNP MP who embezzled almost £25,000 from two pro-independence groups has been jailed for two years.

Natalie McGarry, 40, who represented Glasgow East between 2015 and 2017, was convicted of two charges of embezzlement - totalling £24,635 - in May following a trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

You can read the full story here.

11:51 AM

Government unveils more compensation for postmasters

The Government has announced more compensation for postmasters caught up in the Horizon computer system scandal.

Business minister Paul Scully said an interim payment of compensation to eligible members of a group representing postmasters will be made, totalling £19.5 million.

The award will take total compensation to around £30 million.

11:34 AM

SNP claims momentum 'building' for Indyref2

SNP depute leader Keith Brown has responded to the Savanta ComRes poll which showed more than half of Scots do not want a referendum next October and gave a narrow lead to the "No" campaign (see the post below at 09.16).

He said: "This poll clearly shows why the Westminster parties are running scared of a referendum – the independence campaign is getting into gear and building momentum and they clearly have no positive case to make for continued Westminster rule."

11:28 AM

Senior Tory MP demands vote on troop cuts

The Tory chairman of the Defence Select Committee has urged the Government to hold a vote on reversing cuts to the armed forces.

Tobias Ellwood, a former defence minister, told the House of Commons that he believes if a vote on troop numbers was held then MPs would vote against the Government's planned cut of approximately 10,000 personnel.

Mr Ellwood said: "It’s clearly not time to be cutting our Army by 10,000 troops because this sends a clear message to Putin that we’re not in it for the long haul, we can’t sustain two battlegroups in Estonia and place pressure on the Army to conduct all its other duties to keep the nation safe. Can we have a debate and indeed a vote on reversing these cuts? If there was a free vote I know how the House would act and they’d have the nation’s support.”

Responding for the Government, Commons Leader Mark Spencer pointed to recent increases to defence spending and said the Government "will continue to support" the armed forces.

11:18 AM

Household incomes in worst run of declines on record

UK household incomes fell for a fourth consecutive quarter at the start of the year, marking the longest run of declines since 1955.

Adjusted for inflation, disposable incomes dropped 0.2pc in the first three months of the year, according to the ONS.

That leaves incomes 1.3pc lower than a year ago – even before April’s jump in energy bills and taxes kicked in.

You can follow the latest updates on the state of the economy here.

11:09 AM

Labour claims Grant Shapps 'missing in action' on aviation

Labour's shadow transport minister Mike Kane has accused Grant Shapps of being “missing in action” when it comes to aviation.

Responding to the Transport Secretary’s 22-point plan (see the post below at 11.03), Mr Kane told the Commons: “He is missing in action when it comes to aviation. Now, he has mentioned the chaos between Easter and the Jubilee weekend. He did not hold one meeting with aviation bosses during that time.

“Now EasyJet have announced among others that they could cancel 10,000 flights in the next three months.

“He needs to step up to the plate, he needs to go to the Prime Minister, he needs to knock on the door, and he needs to clean up the mess.”

11:03 AM

Grant Shapps unveils 22-point plan to tackle summer flight disruption

Grant Shapps has unveiled a 22-point plan designed to tackle flight disruption this summer as the Government tries to avoid a repeat of the chaos seen at airports during the Easter and Jubilee holidays.

The Transport Secretary told MPs there is “no excuse for widespread disruption” and holidaymakers “deserve certainty”.

He said: "We appreciate the airports are busy as they recover, but the very last thing we want to see repeated are the scenes that we saw at Easter and half term.

“So, let me stress, there is absolutely no excuse for further widespread disruption. It’s now more than 100 days since we announced easing of travel restrictions, but to further support the industry as it prepares for the summer, today I’m announcing a 22-point plan with a written ministerial statement to this House to help recruit, retain staff, improve resilience, so that passenger disruption this summer is minimised.

“And to make sure that if delays do unfortunately occur, travellers get properly compensated.”

10:29 AM

Rishi Sunak urges businesses to boost investment

Rishi Sunak has been speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference in central London this morning.

The Chancellor urged business leaders to increase their investment in the UK economy.

Rishi Sunak speaks at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference in central London today - Yui Mok/PA
Rishi Sunak speaks at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference in central London today - Yui Mok/PA

He said: "I think the thing that I would probably focus on for all of you and for businesses elsewhere is the important role of investment. I think you were kind enough to mention the super-deduction in your remarks, something we haven't tied before in this country.

"We have got a long-standing challenge with businesses investing in capital, in new machines, in automation and there is an enormous opportunity for us if we can crack that because it would drive up productivity, create jobs and increase profitability. Great for the country."

09:42 AM

'Realistic' to push Russia out of all of Ukraine

Liz Truss has said it is “realistic” that Russia can be pushed out of all the land Ukraine has lost since 2014, including Crimea, within a foreseeable timeframe.

The Foreign Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “All of Ukraine that has been invaded by Russia is illegally occupied.

“And, ultimately, the Russians need to be pushed out of all of that territory, and certainly what we shouldn’t be doing as friends and allies… if Ukraine is implying that there are any trade-offs or any bits of Ukrainian territory that could be traded away or compromised on.”

Asked whether the Government believes Russia can be pushed out of all of Ukraine within a foreseeable timeframe, she said: “It is realistic, and that is why we are supplying the extra lethal aid we’re supplying.”

09:32 AM

'No' campaign has narrow lead over 'Yes' on Indyref2

The "No" campaign has a narrow lead over the "Yes" campaign on the question of Scottish independence, according to a new poll.

A Savanta ComRes survey for The Scotsman found 44 per cent of those questioned support independence, while 46 per cent are opposed, both down one per cent from a survey last month, while 10 per cent were undecided, which was up three percentage points.

When don’t knows were removed, 49 per cent said they would vote "Yes", while 51 per cent said they would vote "No", which was unchanged.

The survey was conducted between June 23 and 28.

09:23 AM

Babies ‘should not be allowed in House of Commons’

Babies should be banned from the House of Commons chamber because they risk distracting MPs, a cross-party committee has found.

The ruling by the House of Commons procedures committee comes after a fierce row was sparked by a Labour MP who was rebuked for bringing her child into a debate last year.

MPs who want to “observe, initiate, speak or intervene in proceedings” should also be banned from bringing babies into Westminster Hall and committee hearings, the review found.

You can read the full story here.

09:22 AM

PM arrives for day two of Nato summit in Madrid

Boris Johnson is pictured as he arrives at the Nato summit in Madrid this morning - Juan Carlos Hidalgo/Shutterstock
Boris Johnson is pictured as he arrives at the Nato summit in Madrid this morning - Juan Carlos Hidalgo/Shutterstock

09:16 AM

Poll: More than half of Scots do not want Indyref2 next year

Nicola Sturgeon's plan to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence next October has suffered a blow after a new poll found more than half of people in Scotland do not want a ballot to be held in 2023.

When asked whether a referendum should take place next October, 53 per cent of people said it should not, 40 per cent said it should, and the remainder were undecided, a Savanta ComRes poll for The Scotsman found.

Nicola Sturgeon takes a picture with a guest during a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh yesterday - Reuters
Nicola Sturgeon takes a picture with a guest during a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh yesterday - Reuters

Ms Sturgeon wants to hold the vote on October 19 next year.

The UK Government is refusing to grant permission for the referendum and Ms Sturgeon has now asked the UK Supreme Court if Holyrood can hold a referendum without the backing of Westminster.

09:03 AM

'I don’t pretend that I can conduct a psychological analysis on him'

Boris Johnson suggested earlier this week that Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine was an example of "toxic masculinity" and a female president would not have made the same mistake.

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, today distanced herself from the Prime Minister's suggestion.

She told Times Radio: “He (Vladimir Putin) clearly is capable of very, very evil acts… I don’t pretend that I can conduct a psychological analysis on him, nor do I think it’s helpful.”

Asked if female leaders are less aggressive than their male counterparts, Ms Truss said: “I think that both women and men are capable of terrible and appalling acts.”

08:57 AM

Liz Truss 'implicitly' trusts Privileges Committee

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, has said she "implicitly" trusts the Privileges Committee to "listen properly to the evidence and make the right decision" as it probes whether Boris Johnson misled Parliament over partygate.

Ms Truss was asked if she believes Mr Johnson will receive a "fair hearing" from the committee and she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “I believe and I trust the Privileges Committee to look at the evidence properly and make the judgement appropriately and we need to allow that process to continue.”

Asked again if the PM will get a "fair hearing", Ms Truss said: "I trust implicitly my parliamentary colleagues to listen properly to the evidence and make the right decision.”

08:45 AM

Liz Truss: Taiwan must have 'ability to defend itself'

Liz Truss has said the West must “learn the lessons from Ukraine” as she repeated her call for western allies to arm Taiwan for its protection against China.

She told Times Radio: “The fact is Ukraine wasn’t in a good enough position to defend itself, that made it a target for Russia.

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, is pictured as she attended a Nato summit in Madrid yesterday - Manu Fernandez/AP
Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, is pictured as she attended a Nato summit in Madrid yesterday - Manu Fernandez/AP

“That’s what we, as a free world, need to do is make sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself, that we continue to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait. These are things that we’re discussing with our allies and working on with our allies.”

She added: “The lesson is that we need to make sure that sovereign nations are in a position to defend themselves.”

Asked if this meant providing arms, Ms Truss said: “There are different ways of doing that, and Finland and Sweden have joined Nato as a way of making sure that they are defended. Ultimately, it is making sure that those countries have the capabilities that they need.”

08:43 AM

Labour fails to commit to more defence spending despite criticising cuts

Labour's shadow defence secretary John Healey has criticised the Government for making cuts to the UK's armed forces but declined to say whether a Labour government would spend more on the military.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the Government’s plans to cut another 10,000 soldiers from the army is “embarrassing for Britain”.

But asked about Labour's plans, he said: "You simply can’t fix detailed figures from opposition without seeing the highly-classified military information about threats, the assessment of weapons systems, the cost. Labour will always commit to what’s needed to defend the country.”

08:39 AM

'We are not thinking about that'

Boris Johnson this week insisted the idea of an early general election “hasn’t occurred to me” but he refused to rule out calling a snap poll.

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, was asked the same question this morning and she also refused to rule out holding a snap election.

She told Sky News: "We are focused on delivering for the British people. We are facing the worst war in Europe for decades, we have got the aftershock of the pandemic which is having huge effects around the world on inflation, on people’s incomes, on economic growth. We are spending our time focused on dealing with those challenges, not speculating about elections.”

Asked again if there could be a snap poll, she said: "As I said, we are not thinking about that, we are thinking about getting on with the job.”

08:29 AM

Liz Truss labels Vladimir Putin an 'appalling dictator'

The Foreign Secretary has labelled Russian President Vladimir Putin an “appalling dictator”.

Speaking from the Nato summit in Madrid, Spain, Liz Truss told Sky News: “I would describe him as an appalling dictator perpetrating a war that was neither legal nor justified in any possible way.

“I’ve not met Vladimir Putin, I don’t know the motivation for carrying out this appalling war. All I know is that we have to make it our absolute priority to stop this war and to push Vladimir Putin and the Russian troops out of Ukraine.”

It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Mr Putin “evil” and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he was a “lunatic”.

08:27 AM

'We have to ignore the rhetoric'

Vladimir Putin last night warned that Russia will "respond in kind" if Nato troops and infrastructure are placed in Finland and Sweden, with the two countries now poised to join the alliance.

The Russian President said Finland and Sweden can "go ahead" and join Nato but he said "they must understand there was no threat before, while now, if military contingents and infrastructure are deployed there, we will have to respond in kind and create the same threats for the territories from which threats towards us are created".

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, dismissed the warning this morning as she said Nato should "ignore" Mr Putin's "red line" rhetoric.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, speaks to the media in Ashgabat yesterday - Dmitry Azarov/AFP
Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, speaks to the media in Ashgabat yesterday - Dmitry Azarov/AFP

She told Sky News: “We have heard this rhetoric from Putin about all kinds of plans in the past so he said that it was a red line for him that Finland and Sweden would join Nato. He said it was a red line if Western nations supplied weapons to Ukraine.

“This is rhetoric. We have to ignore the rhetoric and instead do all we can to continue to support Ukraine with the weapons they need to win this appalling war because if we don’t it means that there will be much greater threat for European security in the future.”

08:22 AM

Foreign Secretary backs Harriet Harman

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, said she has no "problem" with veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman being the chairman of the Privileges Committee as it conducts its investigation into whether Boris Johnson misled Parliament over partygate.

She told Sky News: “I don’t see a problem with that either. The committee clearly has to take its course and make its judgement.

“As I have said before I am 100 per cent supportive of the Prime Minister and what people want us to be doing in Britain is getting on with the priorities.”

08:19 AM

Liz Truss rejects 'kangaroo court' claims

Downing Street sources have claimed that the inquiry into whether Boris Johnson misled Parliament over partygate risks becoming a "kangaroo court" (you can read the full story here)

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, was asked this morning if she shared that anxiety about the Privileges Committee probe.

She told Sky News: "No, we have these processes in Parliament. The process has kicked off. We now need to wait for the result.”

08:16 AM

Good morning

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

Boris Johnson is in Madrid for the second day of the Nato summit and he is expected to hold a press conference before flying back to the UK.

The two main issues of the day are rising tensions between Russia and Nato over Finland and Sweden joining the alliance and a row in Westminster about the Privileges Committee investigation into whether Mr Johnson misled Parliament over partygate.

I will guide you through the key developments.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting