Politics latest news: Nicola Sturgeon takes Indyref2 to Supreme Court as Scotland will 'not be prisoner of Boris Johnson'

·48 min read

Nicola Sturgeon's bid to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence will be decided on by the Supreme Court as she said she is not willing to allow "democracy to be a prisoner of Boris Johnson".

The SNP leader announced this afternoon that she intends to hold a "consultative" re-run of the 2014 vote on October 19 next year.

Downing Street has so far refused to issue a Section 30 order which would grant Holyrood the powers to organise and hold another referendum, so there is an element of surprise to today's developments.

Ms Sturgeon said the ability of the Scottish Parliament to act on the matter without the permission of the UK Government is "contested" and as a result she wants the courts to rule on it sooner rather than later.

She asked Scotland's Lord Advocate to consider referring the matter to the Supreme Court and that request has now been granted, with the relevant paperwork due to be filed this afternoon.

Ms Sturgeon said she hoped the court will rule that Holyrood does have the legal right to act without the permission of the UK Government but if the ruling goes against her then the SNP will campaign solely on the issue of independence at the next general election to make it a "de facto referendum" on breaking away.

​​Follow the latest updates below.

06:26 PM

Dirty rivers could see wave of legal action against environmental regulators

The Environment Secretary is facing court action over dirty rivers as a new watchdog launches a major investigation.

Britain’s environmental regulators could be taken to the High Court over their failure to prevent widespread dumping of raw sewage, polluting waterways for wildlife and swimmers.

Newly formed watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP), is to investigate George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, the Environment Agency, and Ofwat, which regulates water company funding and billing.

The announcement follows a Telegraph campaign calling for action to stop companies being allowed to pollute Britain’s waterways in a scandal that has led to swimmers becoming sick and wildlife choked by algae growing out of control due to nutrient pollution.

Data show that water companies dumped untreated sewage into English rivers and the sea 372,533 times last year.

Olivia Rudgard, our Environment Correspondent, has the story

06:10 PM

Labour extends lead in Red Wall

Labour has extended its lead in the Red Wall to 11 per cent, new polling from Redfield & Wilton Strategies shows.

The pollster measures the popularity of major political parties in 40 so-called 'Red Wall' seats, all but one of which were won by the Conservatives in 2019 having once been traditional Labour strongholds.

Sir Keir Starmer welcomed Simon Lightwood, the party's new MP for Wakefield, into the Commons yesterday - Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Sir Keir Starmer welcomed Simon Lightwood, the party's new MP for Wakefield, into the Commons yesterday - Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Labour are currently polling at 46 per cent, followed by the Conservatives on 35 per cent - down one percentage point on last week - and the Liberal Democrats on eight per cent.

In separate polling, Sir Keir Starmer leads Boris Jonhson by three points (38 per cent to 35) for who voters think would be the better PM among Red Wall voters, a significantly smaller lead than that commanded by his party.

Sir Keir has a net approval rating of zero, while Boris Johnson's rating is -17 per cent.

05:58 PM

Boris Johnson: We've been 'running way ahead' on defence

Boris Johnson has defended the Government's record on defence funding in response to comments made by Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, earlier today.

Mr Johnson told reporters travelling with him to the Nato summit in Madrid the Government had been "running way ahead" of its 2019 Tory manifesto commitment "for a while now".

Boris Johnson arrives in Madrid, Spain for the Nato summit - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Boris Johnson arrives in Madrid, Spain for the Nato summit - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

"We are confident that we will meet that, you don't look at inflation as a single data point, you look at it over the life of the Parliament and I'm confident we will meet that.

"Last year we were the third biggest defence spender in the world, we've another £24 billion going in under the current spending review, the biggest since the end of the Cold War. We are currently running at 2.3 per cent of our GDP (gross domestic product - a measure of the size of the economy) going on defence."

05:44 PM

The case for a second Scottish independence referendum is weak

Today, Nicola Sturgeon announced that she was introducing a referendum bill. But can she call a referendum without the consent of the British Government?

In 2011, David Cameron agreed to a section 30 order, provided under the 1998 Scotland Act, to allow the 2014 referendum. 55 per cent of Scots rejected independence. Boris Johnson, supported by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, refuses to countenance another such order.

Shortly before the 2014 referendum, the Scottish Government published a White Paper declaring it a "once in a generation opportunity".

But Nicola Sturgeon argues that Brexit, which Scottish voters opposed in the 2016 EU referendum, is a material change of circumstances justifying a second referendum. She claims a mandate since the SNP and the Greens, who also support independence, won 72 of the 129 seats in the 2021 Holyrood elections.

Vernon Bogdanor: A referendum for every SNP win would be absurd

05:29 PM

Boris Johnson urges Nato 'conversation' over defence spending in wake of Ben Wallace comments

Boris Johnson has suggested he will push for a more ambitious defence spending target among Nato allies as he arrived in Madrid for a summit of the alliance.

"I think that we will have to have a conversation at Nato about where we go next," he told reporters.

"And then that's something that we'll be talking about to friends and colleagues."

Earlier Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, insisted investment in the armed forces "needs to continue to grow".

05:09 PM

Boris Johnson: We will study Sturgeon plans very carefully

Boris Johnson said he would study Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for a second referendum but "the focus of the country should be on building a stronger economy", writes Tony Diver.

"I haven’t seen exactly what she’s said yet," he told reporters as he travelled to Madrid for the Nato summit.

Boris Johnson speaking to journalists on his flight from the G7 in Germany to the Nato summit in Madrid - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Boris Johnson speaking to journalists on his flight from the G7 in Germany to the Nato summit in Madrid - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

"We will study it very carefully and we will respond properly.

"The focus of the country should be on building a stronger economy, that’s what we’re doing with our plan for a stronger economy and I certainly think that we’ll be able to have a stronger economy and a stronger country together."

04:54 PM

Silenced at last? Anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray has his loudspeaker confiscated by police

Steve Bray, the top hat-wearing anti-Brexit protester, has had his loudspeaker confiscated by police and been warned he could face large fines, after new laws on protesting kicked in.

Social media videos showed officers walking away with Mr Bray’s speaker as he shouted: "This is not the law."

 The former numismatist became well-known during the height of Parliament’s Brexit crises - Peter Nicholls/Reuters
The former numismatist became well-known during the height of Parliament’s Brexit crises - Peter Nicholls/Reuters

It comes as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 took effect, including a provision that allows police to intervene against noisy protest.

Previously, Mr Bray’s noisy actions had been protected as an act of legitimate political protest.

Full story: Why Steve Bray may no longer boom his message across Westminster

04:31 PM

'I'm particularly worried about the experience of lower-paid staff'

It is my "hope" there are no strikes in the NHS later this year, Wes Streeting has said as he voiced concern about the offer currently being made to social care workers.

Speaking at a conference organised by the New Statesman magazine, the stold a panel: "I'm particularly worried about the experience of lower-paid staff. That's not to say that I don't think doctors don't deserve a pay rise, I totally understand where they're coming from.

"But I'm not lying awake at night, worried about people on my salary or high salaries, I am worried about people on low incomes who are struggling to get by, I'm really worried about a social care workforce where we lose people because Amazon offers better pay and conditions than doing an important, vital care role.

"So those are the things that we've got to fix. But I genuinely hope it's not going to come to industrial action and I think it's appalling, actually, the way that the Government tried to abdicate any responsibility for the disruption on the railways."

04:28 PM

Scottish Labour: People don't want this referendum

The Scottish Labour leader has said Nicola Sturgeon has mistimed her fresh push for a second independence referendum.

Anas Sarwar said that in the wake of the pandemic, "for households across Scotland, it doesn't feel like this crisis is over".

"Isn't it the case that the pandemic Nicola that said she wanted us to pull us through is gone and the partisan Nicola Sturgeon that wants to divide our country is back, pursuing a referendum that two-thirds of Scots don't want right now."

04:08 PM

Breaking: Government releases terms of reference for Covid inquiry

The Telegraph's political reporter Dominic Penna here, to guide you through the rest of the day's news and events in Westminster and beyond.

Some breaking news to bring you as the Government has published the terms of the Covid inquiry.

These are to:

  • Examine the COVID-19 response and the impact of the pandemic in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and produce a factual narrative account, including:
    a) The public health response across the whole of the UK
    b) The response of the health and care sector across the UK
    c) The economic response to the pandemic and its impact, including governmental interventions

  • Identify the lessons to be learned from the above, to inform preparations for future pandemics across the UK

The full terms and conditions are available here

04:02 PM

Breaking: No 10 responds to Sturgeon's court challenge

Our position remains unchanged, that both ours and the Scottish Government's priority should be working together with a relentless focus on the issues that really matter to people.

That remains our priority but a decision has been taken by the First Minister, so we will carefully study the details of the proposal and the Supreme Court will now consider whether to accept the Scottish Government's Lord Advocate's referral.

We're obviously not going to get into hypotheticals... As I've said he will study the details of the proposals carefully and it is for the Supreme Court to now consider the Lord Advocate's referral. We obviously wouldn't get ahead of that.

03:57 PM

What is this independence legal row about?

In simple terms this is about whether the Scottish Parliament is allowed to do something without the permission of the UK Government.

The UK Government can issue a Section 30 order to give Holyrood more powers to legislate to hold a referendum. But the UK Government has so far refused to issue such an order.

So the question Nicola Sturgeon wants to ask the Supreme Court is whether Holyrood act anyway.

It is a question of "legislative competence" and it is contested. Some people believe Holyrood could act unilaterally while others believe it is entirely a reserved matter and therefore no action can be taken without the UK Government saying so.

The Supreme Court will now decide.

03:46 PM

Labour labels Indyref2 'a dead cat strategy'

Labour's shadow secretary of state for Scotland Ian Murray has suggested Nicola Sturgeon’s push for an independence referendum in 2023 will keep the Conservative Party in power at the next general election.

“The FM (First Minister) ‘we must rid our country of this Tory govt’,” the Labour MP tweeted.

“But we will use the next GE to keep them in power. She’s given the game away."

He added: “Scottish politics is paralysed and this dead cat [independence referendum] strategy is to deflect from this FM’s appalling record in government.”

03:41 PM

Scottish Tories blast Nicola Sturgeon's Indyref2 plan

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Nicola Sturgeon is at it again. Her eye is off the ball once more.

“The real priorities of people across Scotland are on the back burner. Instead, the First Minister is putting her plans to divide Scotland front and centre.

“Nicola Sturgeon has shown again today that the SNP’s selfish obsession with another divisive referendum is always their top priority. She will use government time and resources to further her plan to break up the country, just when we need to be pulling together and working as one.

“All our focus should be on tackling the huge challenges we face right now – helping families with their bills, supporting frontline services and creating good jobs.

“A potentially illegal referendum next year is the wrong priority for Scotland. It would distract attention away from our recovery. It will damage efforts to rebuild our country after Covid. It is the last thing a clear majority of Scottish people want."

03:28 PM

What is a section 30 order?

The issuing of a section 30 order under the Scotland Act 1998 has come to be used as shorthand in the independence debate for the UK Government granting permission for a vote to take place.

But it is a bit more complicated than that.

A section 30 order can be made by the UK Government to either increase or restrict the Scottish parliament's powers. This can be done on a temporary or permanent basis.

So in the case of independence, it would be used to grant Holyrood the powers it needs to organise and hold a referendum.

The Scottish Government can request a section 30 order but ultimately it is up to the UK Government to decide whether to issue one.

The Scottish Government did request one in March 2017 for the purposes of holding a second referendum but the request was denied.

03:26 PM

Nicola Sturgeon sets out referendum Plan B

Nicola Sturgeon said if the Supreme Court rules against the Scottish Government and the UK Government continues to withhold a section 30 order to grant Holyrood the powers to legislate to hold a vote then the SNP will fight the next general election on the single question of: "Should Scotland be an independent country."

Ms Sturgeon said that if no referendum can be held then the next general election will be a "de facto referendum" on independence.

03:22 PM

'It would not be the end of the matter'

Nicola Sturgeon said she hopes the Supreme Court rules in favour of the Scottish Government but she suggested if it doesn't it will be proof that the UK is not a "voluntary union of nations".

She said: "If that outcome is secured there will be no doubt whatsoever that the referendum is lawful. And I can confirm that the government will then immediately introduce the Bill and ask Parliament to pass it on a timescale that allows the referendum to proceed on the 19th of October next year.

"It is of course possible that the Supreme Court will decide that the Scottish parliament does not have power to legislate even for a consultative referendum.

"To be clear, if that happens, it will be the fault of Westminster legislation, not the court. Obviously that would not be the clarity we hope for but if that is what the law establishing this parliament really means it is better to have that clarity sooner rather than later because what it will clarify is this: Any notion of the UK as a voluntary union of nations is a fiction, any suggestion that the UK is a partnership of equals is false.

"Instead we will be confronted with this reality: No matter how Scotland votes, regardless of what future we desire for our country, Westminster can block and overrule, Westminster will always have the final say.

"There would be few stronger or more powerful arguments of independence than that and it would not be the end of the matter, far from it."

03:15 PM

Unclear how long Supreme Court consideration could take

Nicola Sturgeon said: "Whether or not the reference is accepted, how long it takes to determine and what judgement is arrived at are of course all matters for the court to determine, I accept that.

"As I have made clear throughout, this government respects the rule of law. However, by asking the Lord Advocate to refer the matter to the court now rather than wait for others to do so later we are seeking to deliver clarity and legal certainty in a timely manner and without the delay and continued doubt that others would prefer."

03:08 PM

Supreme Court to receive Indyref2 paperwork this afternoon

Nicola Sturgeon said: "As I speak the process for serving the requisite paperwork on the UK government by lawyers and messengers at arms is underway and I can confirm that the reference will be filed with the Supreme Court this afternoon."

02:59 PM

Indyref2 decision to be sent to Supreme Court

Nicola Sturgeon said the ability of the Scottish Parliament to pass legislation to hold a second referendum without the permission of the UK Government is "contested".

She said the matter will inevitably end up in the courts and in her view "we must establish legal fact" sooner rather than later.

She said: "That is why in my view we must seek now to accelerate to the point when we have legal clarity, legal fact and crucially in doing so I hope establish and safeguard the ability of this parliament to deliver a referendum on the date proposed.

"It is to this end that some weeks ago I asked the Lord Advocate to consider exercising the power she has under paragraph 34 of schedule six to the Scotland Act to refer to the Supreme Court the question of whether the provisions in this Bill relate to reserved matters.

"This is a power exercisible by the Lord Advocate alone, not by Socttish ministers collectively. Whether or not she does so is accordingly a matter solely for her."

Ms Sturgeon said the Lord Advocate has considered this request and will now make the referral.

She said: "She has now informed me of her decision. I can advise Parliament that the Lord Advocate has agreed to make a reference of the provisions in the Bill to the Supreme Court."

02:51 PM

IndyRef2 scheduled for October 19, 2023

Nicola Sturgeon said her second vote on Scottish independence will be held on October 19 next year.

She told MSP: "Finally, the Bill includes the proposed date on which the referendum should be held. In line with the Government's clear mandate this is a date within the first half of this term of parliament.

"I can announce that the Scottish Government is proposing that the independence referendum be held on the 19th of October, 2023."

02:48 PM

Question on ballot paper 'will be same as 2014'

Nicola Sturgeon rejected suggestions that a consultative referendum would not have the same status as the 2014 referendum.

She told MSPs: "That is simply wrong, factually and legally."

She said the status of the vote she is planning next year will be "exactly the same as the referendums of 1997, 2014 and 2016".

Ms Sturgeon also said the question on the ballot paper will be the same as the one in 2014: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

02:42 PM

Nicola Sturgeon: Second referendum would be 'consultative'

Nicola Sturgeon said a second vote on Scottish independence would be "consultative" and not "self-executing".

Addressing Holyrood, she said: "I can announce first of all that the Scottish government is today publishing the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill. I will draw attention in particular to three key provisions of this bill.

"Firstly the purpose of the referendum as set out in section one is to ascertain the views of the people of Scotland on whether or not Scotland should be an independent country.

"In common with the 2014 referendum, indeed in common with the Brexit referendum and the referendum to establish this parliament, the independence referendum proposed in the Bill will be consultative, not self-executing.

"Just as in 2014 and recognised explicitly in the 20-13 white paper, a majority yes vote in this referendum will not in and of itself make Scotland independent. For Scotland to become independent following a yes vote, legislation would have to be passed by the UK and Scottish parliaments."

02:37 PM

Legality of vote 'must be established as a matter of fact'

Nicola Sturgeon said she wants to hold a "legal, constitutional referendum".

She ruled out holding an illegal vote as she said "bluntly it would not lead to Scotland becoming independent" because the result would not be recognised.

She said the legality of the referendum "must be established as a matter of fact".

02:35 PM

Scottish independence 'cannot be suppressed'

Nicola Sturgeon said the UK Government issuing a section 30 order to give Holyrood the powers to hold another referendum would be the "democratic way to proceed".

She said she will write to Boris Johnson today to "make clear that I am ready and willing to negotiate the terms of a section 30 order with him".

But she said: "What I am not willing to do... is allow Scottish democracy to be a prisoner of Boris Johnson or any prime minister."

She said independence "cannot be suppressed"  should the UK Government stick to its position of not wanting to issue a section 30 order.

02:32 PM

Nicola Sturgeon: 'Now is the time for independence'

Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland does not currently have the ability or the powers to tackle all the major policy issues facing the nation.

She said "it does not have to be this way" and that independence is the answer. She said she hopes the Tories lose the next general election before also criticising Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

She said independence would allow Scotland to "chart our own course" and "now is the time... to debate and decide the future of our country... now is the time for independence".

02:29 PM

Nicola Sturgeon: 'The people of Scotland said yes to an independence referendum'

Nicola Sturgeon is now on her feet at Holyrood.

The Scottish First Minister said: "Last May the people of Scotland said yes to an independence referendum by electing a clear majority of MSPs committed to that outcome. The democratic decision was clear."

Ms Sturgeon said Scotland has "paid a price for not being independent" and being part of the UK is "holding us back from fulfilling our potential".

02:25 PM

Nicola Sturgeon to set out IndyRef2 plan

Nicola Sturgeon is about to deliver a statement to the Scottish Parliament on her plan to hold a second independence referendum.

The key thing to look out for will be how the SNP leader intends to get around the UK Government refusing to grant permission for the vote to take place.

02:18 PM

Why are Ben Wallace's words significant?

All secretaries of state want more money for their departments but it is not too often that they make public and very direct calls for extra cash.

Ben Wallace calling for increased investment in the UK's armed forces is likely to mean one of two things: Either No 10 is already on board with a funding boost and it will be announced in the near future or No 10 is not on board and there is now going to be a massive row.

The Defence Secretary has made his case and now we will need to see how Downing Street responds.

02:10 PM

Ben Wallace: 'Investment needs to continue to grow'

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, said investment in the armed forces "needs to continue to grow".

He said: "As the Chief of the General Staff so correctly pointed out this morning, the threat has changed. And as the Prime Minister and his fellow leaders are addressing Madrid today, so must our response.

"Russia is not our only problem. An assertive China ready to challenge the rules based system and democracy, terrorism on the march right across Africa, Iranian nuclear ambitions to date still unresolved.

"The threat is growing and is global and is multi-domain. It is now time to signal that peace dividend is over and investment needs to continue to grow.

"Before it becomes too late to address the resurgent threat and the lessons learned in Ukraine, it is time to mobilise, be ready and to be relevant."

02:04 PM

Ben Wallace calls for more defence funding

Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, has called for a funding boost for the armed forces.

He said: "I have always said that as the threat changed, so must the funding. If governments historically responded every time the NHS has a winter crisis so must they when the threat to the very security that underpins our way of life increases.

"Some times it is not about what dividend you can take out but about what investment in people and equipment you can put in.

"For too long defence has lived on a diet of smoke and mirrors, hollowed out formations and fantasy efficiency savings while in the last few years the threats from states have started to increase and right now Russia is the most direct and pressing threat to Europe, to our allies and to these shores.

"I am serious when I say there is a very real danger that Russia will lash out against wider Europe and that in these days of long range missiles and stealth, distance is no protection."

01:58 PM

Chances of UK forces being deployed in Europe 'have shortened'

Ben Wallace is delivering a speech at the Royal United Services Institute land warfare conference in London.

The Defence Secretary said the odds of UK forces having to join a war in Europe "have shortened" in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

He said: "Our job is to protect people and that will always require presence on land so long as that is where people live. Just as you will always have to go to war with the army you have, not the army you would like, because even today we can't predict where or when it might be so we must mobilise to deter and contain with the forces that we have now.

"The odds of it being a war in Europe have shortened almost as much as the timeline so we must act. We can't protect the British people or our allies with just transformation strategies and glossy equipment brochures."

01:52 PM

Pictured: Boris Johnson leaves G7 summit and heads to Madrid

Boris Johnson is pictured at Munich Airport after leaving the G7 summit in southern Germany - Stefan Rousseau/PA
Boris Johnson is pictured at Munich Airport after leaving the G7 summit in southern Germany - Stefan Rousseau/PA

01:23 PM

Boris Johnson to break manifesto commitment on defence spending

Boris Johnson is set to break a flagship manifesto commitment on defence spending, amid calls for an increase to the budget in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

On the eve of a Nato summit in Madrid, where Western countries will agree to boost their forces on the alliance’s border with Russia, ministers are set to miss their target of increasing defence spending by 0.5 per cent above inflation every year.

The Telegraph understands Ben Wallace has privately made the case to the Treasury and Downing Street that the war in Ukraine justifies more spending on troops and equipment.

You can read the full story here.

01:05 PM

PM refuses to be drawn on possible Tory defections

Boris Johnson has refused to comment on the possibility of three Tory MPs defecting to join the Labour Party (see the post below at 11.05).

Asked how the talk of defections makes him feel, the Prime Minister said: "I think this really falls into the category of political commentary which I leave to distinguished journalists such as yourself.”

He added: “I think it is my job to talk about our policies, what we have to do, what we are doing for the country, what has been going on at the G7. There are plenty of people who can offer an opinion on that.”

01:00 PM

'We will see what she has to say'

Boris Johnson said the Government will wait to see what Nicola Sturgeon announces this afternoon on the subject of another Scottish independence referendum before responding in detail.

But the Prime Minister insisted that his plan for a "stronger economy works better when the UK is together than when it isn’t together".

Speaking at the end of the G7 summit in southern Germany, Mr Johnson said: “Of course we will see what she has to say and look forward to that.

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is pictured today at the G7 summit in southern Germany - Stefan Rousseau/PA
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, is pictured today at the G7 summit in southern Germany - Stefan Rousseau/PA

“I think the important point to make is we think the number one priority for the country is the economic pressures, the spikes in the cost of energy.

“Our plan for a stronger economy certainly means that we think we are stronger working together but we have good relations with the Scottish Government and we will see what she has to say.”

Asked if the UK would block a second referendum, Mr Johnson said: “Let me put it this way: We certainly think that our plan for a stronger economy works better when the UK is together than when it isn’t together.”

12:37 PM

PM refuses to be drawn on extra cash for armed forces

Reports suggest that Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, wants the Ministry of Defence budget to be increased.

Asked if the UK spend on defence will increase, Boris Johnson would not be drawn directly but said a commitment to spend two per cent of GDP on defence is treated "as a floor, not a ceiling".

Speaking at the G7 summit in southern Germany, Mr Johnson said: "I don’t comment on leaked stuff. I can tell you, look already at what we are doing. Last year, 2021, the UK the third biggest defence spender in the world.

“What we are doing now under the spending review is putting another £24 billion in, we are well over two per cent, and we treat the two per cent as a floor, two per cent of GDP spent on defence, we treat that as a floor, not a ceiling.”

12:32 PM

PM does not expect UK war with Russia

Britain is facing its “1937 moment” and must be ready to “fight and win” to ward off the threat from Russia, the head of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, said today.

Boris Johnson was asked at the G7 summit in southern Germany if the UK is preparing for war with Russia.

The Prime Minister said: "I don't think it will come to that and clearly we are working very hard to make sure that we confine this to Ukraine."

12:20 PM

Timetable slips on Boris and Rishi's big speech

When will Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak's long-planned joint speech on the economy take place? Downing Street doesn't seem to know.

It is understood no date has yet been set for the Prime Minister's address with the Chancellor - which has already been delayed several times.

"We’re aware that people are concerned about the economy and we’re committed to being transparent about the challenges that we’re facing," a spokesman told reporters.

12:19 PM

No 10 refuses to be drawn on extra defence spend

The Government has refused to be drawn on the prospect of any increase to defence spending amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Asked whether more spend will be allocated or if the size of the Army will increase, a Downing Street spokesman said: "It’s obviously important that we have the right size to deal with the challenges of the future. And it of course is the case that it’s wrong to solely focus on troop numbers and not think in terms of capabilities and technologies.

"But, as I said, the Prime Minister’s committed to investing in defence to make sure that we have a fully capable armed forces. That’s what we’ve done and that’s what has allowed us to invest so heavily in the technologies the MoD has done in recent years."

The spokesman said he would not comment on any future Government spending, but the PM has always been clear it "will respond to the change in threat" as the conflict continues.

12:08 PM

Angela Rayner to face Dominic Raab at PMQs

Boris Johnson will be at the Nato summit in Madrid tomorrow which means a slightly different edition of PMQs.

We are expecting to see Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, face off against Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the Labour Party.

11:54 AM

Liz Truss: No country has raised concerns about Rwanda policy

11:50 AM

G7 leaders condemn Russia's 'illegal and unjustifiable war'

G7 leaders have just released their end of summit communique.

It said they condemn “Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable war of aggression against Ukraine”.

The statement said: “We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes, providing the needed financial, humanitarian, military, and diplomatic support in its courageous defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“We are ready to reach arrangements together with interested countries and institutions and Ukraine on sustained security commitments to help Ukraine defend itself and to secure its free and democratic future.”

Boris Johnson and Joe Biden share a joke at the G7 summit in southern Germany today - Stefan Rousseau/PA
Boris Johnson and Joe Biden share a joke at the G7 summit in southern Germany today - Stefan Rousseau/PA

The leaders also promised to “continue to impose severe and enduring costs on Russia to help bring an end to this war”.

But plans to impose a price cap on exports of Russian oil appeared to have been watered down – with a commitment only to explore such a measure.

The leaders said: “We will take immediate action to secure energy supply and reduce price surges driven by extraordinary market conditions, including by exploring additional measures such as price caps.

“We reaffirm our commitment to phase out our dependency on Russian energy, without compromising on our climate and environmental goals.”

11:38 AM

Liz Truss and Tom Tugendhat clash over FCO staff

The Foreign Office has reallocated staff to help boost the UK's response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

But Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, has been unable to say where those staff have been taken from - i.e. which parts of the Foreign Office's work have been de-prioritised while Ukraine is being prioritised.

Ms Truss told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that "we have moved staff into Russia/Ukraine, we have moved staff into geo-politics" and "we have gained some efficiencies in doing that".

She was asked by Tory chairman Tom Tugendhat where staff have been "drawn down" from but she was unable to say.

A frustrated Mr Tugendhat said: "I am just delighted the Foreign Office is clearly the department on the mount and every time you look for loaves and fishes you reach into the basket and there is enough to feed the 5,000. It's fantastic. It's a remarkable achievement."

11:23 AM

Liz Truss rubbishes idea of UK joining new European Political Community

Emmanuel Macron, the French President, has floated the idea of creating a new club of European leaders in a new European Political Community designed to boost cooperation between allies.

There were claims from France that Boris Johnson was "very enthusiastic" about the idea but his allies said it was very unlikely that the UK would sign up (you can read the original story here).

Now Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, has rubbished the idea and stressed the UK is focused on Nato and the G7 for its alliances.

She told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee: "That is not true that we have agreed [to join]. I don't know the exact words that President Macron has used but we have not agreed to that. We see the key guarantor of security in Europe as being Nato and our aims and ambitions are to strengthen Nato and we see the G7 as the absolutely key economic alliance for us."

11:12 AM

Liz Truss hoping for 'significant progress' on new Nato members

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, is giving evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee this morning.

She said that after the session has finished she is flying to Madrid to take part in the Nato summit. She is then visiting France for talks on Friday.

Ms Truss was asked about the applications from Sweden and Finland to join Nato. Turkey has expressed concerns and is blocking progress.

Ms Truss said there are a "few remaining issues to be agreed" and she "very much hopes that we will see significant progress at Madrid".

11:05 AM

Sir Keir Starmer does not deny possible Tory defections

Sir Keir Starmer has failed to deny a report that three Red Wall Conservative MPs are in defection talks with Labour.

Speaking at an event hosted by the New Statesman magazine, the Labour leader said: "If we all spent all our time chasing every story that's circulating in Westminster we'd spend a lot of time.

"But what I can say is after the result in Wakefield last week if I was a Tory MP I'd be pretty worried about the next general election, because that was a fantastic result for us.

"And the Labour Party is in good spirits, in high hopes and we've got a real belief about what we're doing. Wakefield showed us at a general election, there may well now be a Labour government."

11:00 AM

'Boring wasn't on the agenda'

Sir Keir Starmer said business leaders are not looking for a prime minister who can tell jokes and provide entertainment after he was asked if he is "boring".

Speaking at an event hosted by the New Statesman magazine, the Labour leader said: "I was sitting around a big table with CEOs from some of the biggest bodies and corporations around this country. And we were having a serious discussion about what they expect from government. None of them said 'a few more jokes, please', 'a bit of a laugh', 'some entertainment would be good'.

"They all said we want a government which has a very clear sense of its mission, sets that mission clearly out for us to have the certainty to do what we need to do.

"And with partnership the government doesn't want to run everything, it sets the mission empowering businesses and communities to unleash our potential. We had a really good discussion and boring wasn't on the agenda."

10:57 AM

Pictured: G7 leaders meet as summit winds down

G7 leaders attend a working session today at Castle Elmau in Kruen, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany - Benoit Tessier/Reuters
G7 leaders attend a working session today at Castle Elmau in Kruen, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany - Benoit Tessier/Reuters

10:46 AM

'We must meet strength with strength'

Britain and its Nato allies must be “unequivocally prepared to fight” if Russia attacks any of their territory, the head of the Army has said.

General Sir Patrick Sanders said it is essential they have the forces in place to deter further Russian aggression if they are to avoid an even more deadly conflict in future.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute land warfare conference in London, he said: "To succeed, the British Army, in conjunction with our Nato allies and partners, must be in place or at especially high readiness – ideally a mix of both. Trip wires are not enough.

“If we fail to deter, there are no good choices given the cost of a potential counter attack and the associated nuclear threat. We must therefore meet strength with strength from the outset and be unequivocally prepared to fight for Nato territory.”

10:42 AM

Threat from Russia 'will become even more acute'

General Sir Patrick Sanders, the head of the British Army, has said it is “dangerous” to assume that Ukraine is a “limited conflict”.

Speaking to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) land warfare conference in London, Sir Patrick said: "Historically Russia often starts wars badly. Because Russia wages war at the strategic and not the tactical level its depth and resilience means it can suffer any number of campaigns, battles and engagements lost and yet regenerate and still ultimately prevail.

“While Russia’s conventional capability will be reduced for a time at least, Putin’s declared intent to restore the lands of historic Russia makes any respite temporary and the threat will become even more acute.

“We don’t know how the war in Ukraine will end but in most scenarios Russia will be an even greater threat to European security after Ukraine than it was before.

“The Russian invasion has reminded us of that time-honoured maxim that if you want to avert conflict you had better be prepared to fight.”

10:14 AM

Keir Starmer grilled on possible defections

Sir Keir Starmer has been taking part in an event hosted by the New Statesman magazine this morning and it looks like he was asked about The Telegraph's report that three Red Wall Conservative MPs are in defection talks with Labour:

Tony Diver, The Telegraph's Whitehall Correspondent, points out that it is not in Labour's interests to talk about defections before they are confirmed.

He said: "Clearly it’s not in Labour’s interest for this to be public before it happens. The party successfully kept Christian Wakeford’s defection quiet until *just* before he crossed the floor at PMQs."

10:08 AM

‘Very unlikely’ Boris Johnson makes it to third term 

Lord Hague, the former Tory leader, said he does not believe Boris Johnson will make it to a third term as prime minister as he said such an outcome is “very unlikely”.

Asked if he would bet on Mr Johnson being PM for a third term, Lord Hague told Times Radio: “No, I wouldn’t. I am not a betting man anyway but no, I wouldn’t. You know my views on that. A few weeks ago when there was the vote of confidence I said it was an unsustainable situation so it being sustained into the 2030s seems very unlikely to me.”

Mr Johnson claimed only a few days ago that he was making plans for three terms in Downing Street, meaning that he would remain in No 10 until the mid 2030s. You can read the original story here.

10:01 AM

Lord Hague labels PM a ‘limping duck’

Theresa May last night suggested that Boris Johnson is a lame duck prime minister and because of that the EU is unwilling to negotiate with him on the Northern Ireland Protocol (you can read the full story here).

Lord Hague, the former Tory leader, said he believes Mr Johnson is more of a “limping duck” but Mrs May’s assessment of the situation was not “unreasonable”.

Lord Hague, the former Tory leader - Joe Newman for The Telegraph
Lord Hague, the former Tory leader - Joe Newman for The Telegraph

He told Times Radio: “Her point really is that the EU isn’t going to compromise with Boris because they think he is not going to be around very long.

“She said he is a lame duck. I think he is more of a limping duck in a way, in that a limping duck is still moving around more than a lame duck. But that was her point and I thought it was not an unreasonable one.”

09:53 AM

Lord Hague: ‘No alternative but to slog on’ with support of Ukraine

Lord Hague, the former Tory leader and ex-foreign secretary, said that while some people may be in favour of making concessions to Russia to secure peace in Ukraine, he does not believe a lasting peace can be agreed with Vladimir Putin.

He told Times Radio: “Peace is not available with Putin. There isn’t a durable peace treaty that could be created between Ukraine and Vladimir Putin that would last.

“So actually there is no alternative but to slog on with this and to support the Ukrainians with whatever it takes for them to be able to preserve a functioning country.”

09:38 AM

Pictured: Boris Johnson holds talks with G7 counterparts

US President Joe Biden meets with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 leaders summit at Bavaria's Schloss Elmau, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany - Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
US President Joe Biden meets with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 leaders summit at Bavaria's Schloss Elmau, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany - Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

09:26 AM

Three Red Wall Tories in talks to defect to Labour

Three Red Wall Conservative MPs are in defection talks with Labour, The Telegraph can reveal.

Labour sources told The Telegraph that the three male Conservatives, first elected in 2019, have entered formal discussions about crossing the floor to join Sir Keir Starmer’s party.

Those familiar with discussions said the MPs had slim majorities in Red Wall areas in the North that had historically voted Labour and believed they would lose their seats at the next election if they did not defect.

It is understood the three have felt dissatisfied with Boris Johnson’s leadership in recent weeks and were pushed towards the decision after a confidence vote in which 148 Tory MPs did not back the Prime Minister.

You can read the full story here.

09:13 AM

Scottish Tories: Now is not the time for referendum

Craig Hoy, the chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party, said “we do not believe this is the time for an independence referendum”.

Told that the SNP believe they could hold a referendum without the permission of the UK Government, Mr Hoy told Sky News: “I don’t think that is the case at all. We have to wait to hear what the First Minister says today.

“Two weeks ago she came forward with the first announcement and that was a bit of a damp squib so she has come back before we go into recess at the end of this week to try and re-energise her flagging campaign.

“But we know what the situation is in terms of the Scottish Parliament’s powers. The power to hold a legally binding referendum is reserved to Westminster. We do not believe this is the time for an independence referendum. We should be focused on the people’s priorities.”

09:05 AM

‘It is not the only way forward’

Fiona Hyslop, an SNP MSP, said in an “ideal situation” the Scottish Government would have permission from the UK Government to hold another referendum on independence. But she said that is “not the only way forward”.

She told Sky News: “Well, the ideal situation is one where we have agreement between the UK Government and the Scottish Government.

“It is not the only way forward and we expect to hear from the First Minister later today what her plans are in the absence of that.”

09:04 AM

SNP MSP: ‘We are respecting democracy’

Fiona Hyslop, an SNP MSP, has dismissed the idea that the Scottish Government needs permission from the UK Government to hold a second referendum on independence.

She told Sky News: “We need permission from the people of Scotland and we got that permission in 2021 in the Scottish elections.”

She added: “We are respecting democracy, we are respecting the will of the people of Scotland because they voted quite clearly in a manifesto, an election, that was very, very clear what would happen if an SNP government was elected, that we would have an independence referendum. That is about democracy and choice.

“We will have a lawful referendum, we respect the rule of law, we think that is really important.”

09:02 AM

Pictured: PM holds talks with Japan's Fumio Kishida at G7 summit

Boris Johnson had an early-morning swim in the lake at the G7 summit venue in the Bavarian Alps before a meeting with Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida.

The Prime Minister said: “Thank you very much for meeting so early, it’s great to see you. Actually, I’ve already been for a swim in the lake.”

Boris Johnson welcomes Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida ahead of a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Schloss Elmau, in the Bavarian Alps, Germany - Stefan Rousseau/PA
Boris Johnson welcomes Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida ahead of a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Schloss Elmau, in the Bavarian Alps, Germany - Stefan Rousseau/PA

He told the Japanese leader: “This is a relationship that’s going from strength to strength under your leadership, Fumio.

“Two great island democracies, united in our values, determined to stand up together against autocracies and the dangers of drifting backwards in the world, but also wanting to do more together on technology, on security, on trade, and of course I’m delighted that tomorrow – finally – we are able to have Fukushima-origin products all over the shops in the UK.”

Products from Fukushima, the site of a nuclear accident in 2011, had been restricted due to concerns about radiation contamination.

08:59 AM

Minister disagrees with Theresa May

Theresa May last night branded the Government’s plans to rip up the Northern Ireland Protocol unlawful and warned that the EU won’t negotiate with Boris Johnson because he was now a lame duck prime minister (you can read the full story here).

Chris Philp, the technology minister, said he disagreed with the former PM and insisted the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill is legal.

He told Times Radio: “I respectfully disagree with Theresa May’s analysis. First of all it is legally justified, the Foreign Office have published a paper drawing attention to the doctrine of necessity which is a well-established convention in international law… that doctrine of necessity says that where the only way to safeguard a nation’s essential interests is to make changes to a treaty and where those changes don’t unreasonably impact on the interests of the other party, in this case the EU, then you are legally entitled to do that.”

08:30 AM

Russia 'irreversibly tarnished'

Chris Philp, the technology minister, said it is "difficult to see" how the UK could ever do business with Vladimir Putin's regime again.

He told Sky News: "I think the Russian regime, Putin’s regime, is irreversibly tarnished and tarnished is too weak a word by what they have done, just disgraced in international eyes.

“I think it is difficult to see how we can deal with them ordinarily again, certainly so long as they remain in occupation of a free, democratic, sovereign country.”

08:26 AM

Russia would be 'literally insane' to start conflict with Nato

Britain is facing its “1937 moment” and must be ready to “fight and win” to ward off the threat from Russia, the head of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, will say today (you can read the full story here).

Chris Philp, the technology minister, responded to the pre-briefed comments and said Russia would be "literally insane" to enter into a conflict against Nato. He also said the UK is "prepared for anything”.

He told Sky News: "We don’t want to see an escalation into a wider conflict. I think Russia would be literally insane to attempt to do that because Nato is a far larger and a far stronger bloc.

General Sir Patrick Sanders - Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph
General Sir Patrick Sanders - Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph

“We have seen the Russians have been unable to make significant progress in Ukraine where they tried to take Kyiv and they were unable to do so.

“Russia would be mad to try and take on Nato. We don’t think they will do that, we don’t think they should do that, we certainly don’t want to see that happen."

08:22 AM

Shopping centre missile strike 'was an act of terrorism'

A Russian missile strike on a shopping centre was an act of terrorism, a UK Government minister said this morning.

Asked the question during an interview on Sky News, the technology minister Chris Philp said: "Yes, I would go that far and say that it is because it is intentionally targeting civilians.

"There is no military necessity to bombing a shopping centre just as there was no military necessity to bombing a maternity hospital which we saw or that theatre in Mariupol - we saw them bombing that theatre where civilians were taking shelter, it was clearly marked as containing civilians.

"This is not a one-off act, it is part of a consistent pattern of atrocities being committed by the Russian government.”

08:17 AM

Minister: 'No end to barbarity of Putin’s criminal regime'

The toll from a Russian missile strike on a shopping mall in the central Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk has risen to 16 dead and 59 wounded, the head of Ukraine's emergency services said this morning (you can follow the latest here).

Chris Philp, the technology minister, said the strike was further evidence that there is "no end to the barbarity of Putin’s frankly criminal regime".

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Philp said: "We saw the attack just there on a shopping centre yesterday but it is not a one off, we have seen them over the last three months attacking children’s hospitals, we have seen them attacking maternity wings, we have seen them bombing flats.

“There is apparently no end to the barbarity of Putin’s frankly criminal regime in the way that they are not only invading a free sovereign country but apparently intentionally, deliberately killing and targeting civilians as well.”

08:13 AM

'Democracy only works if you respect the result'

Nicola Sturgeon is failing to respect democracy by pushing for another referendum on Scottish independence, a minister suggested this morning.

Chris Philp, the technology minister, told Sky News: "I am telling her just to respect the result of a democratic referendum just as we respected the result of the Brexit referendum.

“Democracy only works if you respect the result of the vote you have.”

08:11 AM

'They are not up for having a referendum'

Chris Philp, the technology minister, claimed that less than a third of Scottish people want an independence vote to be held this year or next year.

He said the Scottish government should be focused on more pressing matters.

He told Sky News: “They [the Scottish people] are not up for having a referendum. Only 28 per cent of people said they wanted a referendum this year or next.

"There are more important issues facing the country and facing Scotland.”

08:09 AM

Minister: Sturgeon must 'respect the will of the Scottish people'

Nicola Sturgeon will today unveil her plan to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence, with the SNP leader targeting October next year for the vote to take place (you can read the full story here).

Ms Sturgeon is expected to set out how she intends to get around the UK Government refusing to grant permission for the vote.

Chris Philp, the technology minister, said this morning that Ms Sturgeon should respect the result from the 2014 referendum which was supposed to be a "once in a generation" event.

He told Sky News: "We had a referendum in 2014, the Scottish people delivered their verdict by a fairly clear 10 point margin.

“Nicola Sturgeon at the time, and her then mentor Alex Salmond, said very clearly to the Scottish people this was going to be a once in a generation referendum, it was only a few years ago, that’s not once in a generation.

“I think Nicola Sturgeon should respect the will of the Scottish people that was expressed so clearly in that referendum.”

08:05 AM

Good morning

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

The G7 summit in southern Germany will finish this morning and Boris Johnson will then fly to Madrid in Spain to attend a Nato summit amid a rumbling row at home over defence funding.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon will this afternoon set out her road map for holding a second referendum on Scottish independence.

It promises to be a big day and I will guide you through the key developments.

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