Conor Burns loses whip over 'complaints about behaviour'

The MP for Bournemouth West, who has also had the whip suspended, said that 'he will fully cooperate with the investigation and looks forward to clearing his name' - Paul Grover
The MP for Bournemouth West, who has also had the whip suspended, said that 'he will fully cooperate with the investigation and looks forward to clearing his name' - Paul Grover

Conor Burns has been sacked as a trade minister and had the whip suspended following a complaint about "serious misconduct".

The MP for Bournemouth West said that “he will fully cooperate with the investigation and looks forward to clearing his name”.

A complaint was made to the Whips’ office on Thursday night about an incident that took place at the Hyatt hotel bar in Birmingham, The Telegraph understands.

A No10 spokesman said: “Following a complaint of serious misconduct, the Prime Minister has asked Conor Burns MP to leave the government with immediate effect.

“The Prime Minister took direct action on being informed of this allegation and is clear that all ministers should maintain the high standards of behaviour – as the public rightly expects.”

On Thursday evening, the Whips' office was contacted by a conference delegate who witnessed the incident take place in the Hyatt hotel bar.

Downing Street sources insisted that his appointment went through the usual processes and checks by the Cabinet Office proprietary and ethics team.

A Whips’ office spokesman said: “We have suspended the whip pending investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour earlier this week.

“We take all such allegations extremely seriously. The Prime Minister has been clear that the highest standards in public life must be upheld.”

Tory party sources indicated that Mr Burns is under investigation for displaying allegedly untoward behaviour - including making allegedly inappropriate remarks - on the final night of Tory party conference at the Hyatt hotel bar.

Given that the complaint was made by a third party, the Whips’ office is understood to be seeking to interview the alleged victim to hear their account first-hand.

As part of the investigation, the Chief Whip will also try to speak to other eyewitnesses to see if their accounts corroborate, The Telegraph understands.

The Hyatt hotel in Birmingham - where the alleged incident took place - was part of the Conservative Party conference “secure zone”, meaning it was frequented by delegates as they made their way between fringe events and receptions.

Every evening during the conference, which began last weekend and ended on Wednesday, the luxury hotel bar was packed with MPs, ministers, lobbyists and Tory activists.

05:13 PM

That's all for this week.

That ends a momentous week in British politics, which started with a major policy U-turn at the Tory party conference and ended with the sacking of one of Liz Truss's ministers following allegations around his behaviour.

Conor Burns was sacked by the Prime Minister shortly after allegations of inappropriate behaviour - which he denies - at the conference in Birmingham emerged. He has also lost the party whip.

As Chris Bryant, the chairman of the standards committee, writes this evening: "So far in this parliament, 16 MPs have been suspended from the House or have resigned their seat for various misdemeanours.

"This is completely unprecedented. No parliament has ever seen this before. And we’ve two years to go."

It is clear Westminster still has a deep-set cultural problem around alleged abuse and bad behaviour from a minority of MPs. The ball is now in Liz Truss's court to succeed where Boris Johnson arguably failed and restore trust by taking the required action.

04:47 PM

These accusations are the latest in a long line

The allegations around Conor Burns are the latest to befall a Conservative Party that has spent much of the past year mired in sleaze claims.

Mr Burns, the MP for Bournemouth West, said after his suspension that "he will fully cooperate with the investigation and looks forward to clearing his name."

David Warburton, the MP for Somerset and Frome, had the whip withdrawn in April after allegations surfaced about drugs and sexually inappropriate behaviour.

An investigation is under way into claims Mr Warburton took cocaine and was sexually inappropriate towards three women.

He insisted he would launch a robust defence and denies wrongdoing. In the same month Imran Ahmad Khan, the Tory MP for Wakefield, was jailed for 18 months after being found guilty of child sex offences. Khan, who lost the party whip and then quit as an MP, forced a teenager to drink gin, dragged him upstairs and asked him to watch pornography before the attack in 2008, a court was told.

Also in April, Neil Parish stepped down as the Tory MP for Tiverton and Honiton in April after a "moment of madness" in which he deliberately watched pornography in the Commons, having once viewed it accidentally.

Chris Pincher quit as deputy chief whip in July amid claims he had groped two men at an event. In his letter to Mr Johnson, he wrote: "Last night I drank far too much. I’ve embarrassed myself and other people which is the last thing I want to do and for that I apologise to you and those concerned."

04:40 PM

No 10: Conor Burns's appointment went through usual checks

Downing Street sources insisted that his appointment went through the usual processes and checks by the Cabinet Office Propriety & Ethics Team.

04:29 PM

Complaint 'relates to hotel allegations'

On Thursday evening, the Whips' Office was contacted by a conference delegate who witnessed the alleged incident take place in the Hyatt hotel bar in Birmingham, one of the key conference hotels used for the Conservative Party Conference, writes Camilla Turner.

Downing Street sources insisted that his appointment went through the usual processes and checks by the Cabinet Office Propriety & Ethics Team.

04:21 PM

Breaking: Liz Truss sacks Conor Burns

A No 10 spokesman said: "Following a complaint of serious misconduct, the Prime Minister has asked Conor Burns MP to leave the government with immediate effect.

Conor Burns - Tim Clarke
Conor Burns - Tim Clarke

"The Prime Minister took direct action on being informed of this allegation and is clear that all ministers should maintain the high standards of behaviour – as the public rightly expects."

04:18 PM

'We take all such allegations extremely seriously'

This from Camilla Turner, our Chief Political Correspondent:

A Whips' Office spokesman said: "We have suspended the Whip pending investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour earlier this week.

"We take all such allegations extremely seriously. The Prime Minister has been clear that the highest standards in public life must be upheld."

03:58 PM

Profile: Conor Burns

Born in Belfast before moving to Hertfordshire aged eight, Conor Burns worked in finance and communications before becoming the Tory MP for Bournemouth West in 2010.

He was previously a Parliamentary Private Secretary to Boris Johnson during Mr Johnson's time as foreign secretary, but resigned in July 2018 so he could speak "more openly" on other areas of policy.

This was followed by a stint as trade minister between 2018 and 2020, at which point he resigned after an investigation found he threatened a company chairman over a financial dispute with his father.

Mr Burns became a Northern Ireland minister last year, working alongside Brandon Lewis, before returning as a trade minister in the Cabinet reshuffle last month.

03:49 PM

Breaking: Conor Burns suspended

The international trade minister has been suspended after "complaints" about his behaviour at the Conservative Party Conference.

Conor Burns, the MP for Bournemouth West, is the subject of allegations around events at the convention in Birmingham earlier this week.

Mr Burns, a former Northern Ireland minister, has now temporarily had the party suspended pending investigation, the Sun reported.

He told the newspaper he "will fully cooperate with the investigation and looks forward to clearing his name".

03:42 PM

Liz Truss needs to defeat the anti-growth Tories first

If there's one success Liz Truss can point to in her premiership so far, it’s shifting the national conversation towards a pro-growth narrative.

“Everyone’s talking about growth now”, her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng told a packed fringe event at Tory party conference on Tuesday. He’s right. Across the political spectrum now, politicians are framing their policy ideas around what might increase GDP.

It was the Prime Minister’s most impressive political move to date, labelling her opponents as an "anti-growth coalition" in her conference speech. Let’s be honest, the bar for political competence has been set low by this administration: but framing opposition to supply-side reform as anti-growth has everyone desperate to prove their more liberal credentials.

​Kate Andrews has this analysis

03:25 PM

A Government that has 'lost the narrative'?

Support for the Conservatives is "imploding before our eyes", academic and pollster Matthew Goodwin has said.

Mr Goodwin's firm People Polling is behind the latest data that show Labour with a 32-point lead in a poll carried out yesterday for GB News.

Angela Rayner and Sir Keir Starmer - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Angela Rayner and Sir Keir Starmer - Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Speaking to the channel, he said: "There is no evidence at all, so far, that Liz Truss and the Conservatives, despite their conference, have managed to close the gap with Labour.

"Sir Keir Starmer and Labour still hold a commanding lead while the Conservatives are only holding around 40 per cent of the people who voted for Boris Johnson in 2019.

"It is clear that a plurality of people blame the government for the current economic turmoil, which underlines the extent to which it has lost the narrative. A larger number of people blame the Government rather than global events, including the war in Ukraine."

03:14 PM

Even Macron has realised the EU can’t claim to speak for Europe

At first, Liz Truss dismissed Emmanuel Macron’s plan for a new club of European nations. There are already too many such talking shops, she said: why not make them work better? But Tim Barrow, the new national security adviser, changed her mind, writes Fraser Nelson.

Isn’t Brexit all about the need to co-operate more closely as free nation states? Isn’t this Prague summit a perfect chance to do just that? If this new group didn’t exist, he said, Britain would be lobbying to create it.

So the Prime Minister flew off yesterday for her first European summit: a genuine one, with 44 members rather than the subset of 27 EU states.

At first, Macron envisaged a club of liberal democracies but then decided to let in the Serbs, Turks and (worst of all) the Azerbaijanis. A motley bunch, he thought, but this is soft power. A global war of influence is being waged and if dinner in Prague Castle moves them even a few inches away from Moscow’s orbit and towards the West, that would be worthwhile.

From the British perspective all this should be seen as a bonus, even a breakthrough.

Fraser Nelson: This new club is the chance for a fresh start

03:02 PM

Nicola Sturgeon to outline plans for independent 'Scottish pound'

Nicola Sturgeon has said Scots would be asked to vote for independence without knowing when the pound would be dumped and with the Bank of England in charge of a separate Scotland’s interest rates, reports Simon Johnson, our Scottish Political Editor.

The First Minister said there would be no "fixed timescale" for replacing sterling with a Scottish pound, meaning the Bank of England would continue to determine monetary policy and interest rates for a separate Scotland indefinitely.

Nicola Sturgeon - Michal Wachucik/Pool via Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon - Michal Wachucik/Pool via Getty Images

Speaking ahead of the start of the SNP conference in Aberdeen today, she disclosed that the Scottish Government will publish an updated economic case for independence next week.

However, this means that delegates at the conference will be unable to discuss her plans after previously voting that they wanted to move away from the pound as soon as possible.

Read more: 'No fixed timescale' to replace sterling

02:42 PM

Simon Murray made minister of state

Simon Murray has been appointed as a minister of state at the Home Office, Downing Street confirmed this afternoon.

Mr Murray is also set to receive a life peerage.

02:39 PM

Nicola Sturgeon: 'Absurd' I've not had phone call with Truss

Nicola Sturgeon claimed Liz Truss has not held a phone call with her more than a month since becoming Prime Minister.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Sturgeon said: "It's not the right way to do government in a grown up way. So I hope we will see a change.

In separate remarks made in an interview with BBC Scotland, she added: "I'll meet with her, I'll speak to her, but let's just underline how absurd it is that a UK prime minister doesn't seem to want to work with - other than in rhetoric - the devolved administrations in the rest of the UK."

A Government spokesman told the BBC Ms Truss's priority was to deliver economic growth, adding: "UK government ministers, including the minister for intergovernmental relations, along with officials, are continuing to engage regularly with their devolved counterparts."

02:28 PM

'When you lose such a close loved one, you can’t look at life in the same way'

Ian Russell has felt a weight lift from him. It is nearly five years since his daughter, Molly, took her own life, but a long, painful wait for answers only came to an end less than a week ago.

In a landmark ruling, a coroner concluded that social media brought about the death of his 14-year-old daughter in 2017 by inundating her with images and videos relating to self-harm and suicide.

Ian Russell, the dad of Molly Russell - Paul Grover
Ian Russell, the dad of Molly Russell - Paul Grover

Molly’s image appeared in news reports around the globe. Yet for Ian, his wife and Molly’s two older sisters, there was simply "relief" that their feelings about the cause of her death had been formally recognised. Their grieving can now enter a different phase.

The 59-year-old is in a reflective mood when he sits down for his first newspaper interview since the dramatic end to the inquest into Molly’s death.

Jack Hardy has the full, must-read interview

02:09 PM

'Somebody needs to save the Conservative Party'

The Conservative must be "saved" from Liz Truss and her Government, Theresa May's former chief of staff claimed this afternoon.

Nick Timothy, who was also a special adviser to Mrs May, has already branded Ms Truss's mini-Budget "unconservative" and accused her of "pastiche Thatcherism".

In a tweet today, he has gone further still:

01:55 PM

Rishi Sunak smiles like a man who knows he was right all along

In the wake of his failed leadership bid, Rishi Sunak flagged up the fact he would not be making an appearance in Birmingham as he wanted the PM, Liz of a Thousand Hours (that’s rocketing shrinkflation for you) to "own the moment", writes Judith Woods.

And what a moment it was. Not entirely disastrous thanks to a "really far less awful than expected" speech, which has become the agreeably modest benchmark of success.

Rishi Sunak and Anoushka, his daughter, at the world premiere of Matilda the Musical - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu
Rishi Sunak and Anoushka, his daughter, at the world premiere of Matilda the Musical - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu

But given the acrimony behind and occasionally in front of the scenes, Rishi was wise to stay away – he’s far too pristine to risk blood spatters on his trainers. And far too canny to be caught out dissing his triumphant rival.

Turning up at the red carpet premiere of Matilda the Musical, he looked – as ever – calm, relaxed, lovely teeth, box fresh white shirt. But was there not an added radiance?

Judith Woods: Will Sunak lead his party in Revolting?

01:42 PM

Liz Truss 'simply wrong' to veto energy-saving campaign, say Tory MPs

Liz Truss is facing a backlash from Tory MPs over her "simply wrong" decision to veto a campaign to encourage Britons to use less energy this winter, writes Nick Gutteridge.

Senior backbenchers expressed dismay after it emerged the Prime Minister had blocked a £15 million publicity blitz drawn up by Jacob Rees-Mogg.

The Business Secretary had already signed off on the plans, which were described as "light touch" and designed to help households save £300 a year.

The campaign would have advised people to lower the temperature of boilers, turn off radiators in empty rooms and switch off the heating when they go out.

Further backbench backlash - this time over energy-saving campaign

01:12 PM

Liz Truss needs to be wary of Emmanuel Macron despite new entente cordiale

A long overdue thaw in relations between Paris and London has been achieved after Liz Truss and Emmanuel Macron kissed and made up at a European summit.

The Prime Minister called the French President "a friend" after their meeting on the margins of the European Political Community of EU and non-EU nations in Prague.

It was a telling choice of words. In August, Ms Truss ruffled French feathers by declaring the "jury’s out" on whether Mr Macron was a friend or foe to Britain.

Mr Macron was not impressed, and in response reportedly ditched a new deal with the UK to curb cross-channel migration in small boats.

That agreement, involving a UK payment of around £50 million to the French for boosted joint patrols and the deployment of immigration officers in France, is now back on the cards.

James Crisp, our Europe Editor, has this analysis

01:04 PM

Households could be handed £1,000 to approve fracking

Households will be offered up to £1,000 to approve provisional fracking in their area under a plan backed by Government ministers to secure local consent.

The proposal being floated is for companies that want to drill for shale gas to go door-to-door to convince residents to green-light the move.

Cash incentives could be offered, with exploratory drilling allowed to go ahead if more than 50 per cent of households in the local vicinity give their approval.

Should shale gas be found and removal is possible, companies would then offer those who own the land under which fracking takes place royalties to share in the proceeds.

The two-step idea is being explored in Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which oversees the policy area.

Ben Riley-Smith, our Political Editor, has more

12:52 PM

We're not a nanny state and won't tell people to use less energy, says climate minister

Britain is "not a nanny state" and households will not be told to use less energy this winter, the climate minister has confirmed.

A £15million information campaign urging the public to conserve energy was backed by Jacob Rees-Mogg, and was estimated to save households around £300. It was then reported overnight to have been rejected by Liz Truss in the face of backing from her Business Secretary.

However, Graham Stuart insisted there was no "highly-developed campaign which we were passionately devoted to" and stressed the need for "the right messaging" in the months ahead.

"Technically, a general campaign about reducing energy would probably make no difference to our energy security. So, that would be a good reason not to do it," Mr Stuart told LBC.

"We're also hesitant to tell people what they should do when we're not a nanny-state government. What we are prepared to do is talk to the big energy users and talk to consumers with smart technology about rewarding them for reducing energy at the peak times."

Speaking to Times Radio, he added: "There is not enormous use in telling people to use less energy when it makes no difference to our national security."

12:48 PM

Memorial Mass at the Vatican for Sir David Amess

This from Sir Edward Leigh, the veteran Conservative backbencher and a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Holy See:

12:41 PM

Labour appears to back energy campaign

Labour threw its weight behind an energy-saving campaign this morning, describing the reportedly abandoned campaign as "entirely possible and sensible".

In remarks made to Politics Home, Ed Miliband, the shadow climate and net zero secretary, took aim at Liz Truss's apparent veto of the planned communications drive.

"It is entirely possible and sensible to give the public factual information about how they can save money on their energy bills.

"It would be wrong for Liz Truss to block the provision of this kind of information because of dogma or embarrassment about the energy crisis that failed Conservative energy policy has caused."

12:35 PM

Liz Truss refuses to rule out power cuts hitting homes this winter

Liz Truss has refused to rule out the prospect of widespread blackouts for up to three hours a day this winter if the country is unable to import enough energy.

National Grid has warned that both households and businesses are at risk of being cut off.

It said a worst-case scenario could include "load-shedding", where power is restricted to different areas at different times to prevent uncontrolled outages.

Liz Truss spoke to reporters after the first meeting of the European Political Community yesterday - Alastair Grant/Pool via Reuters/File Photo
Liz Truss spoke to reporters after the first meeting of the European Political Community yesterday - Alastair Grant/Pool via Reuters/File Photo

Homeowners will be asked to use their washing machines and other electricity appliances at night to help avert potential disruption during peak hours. Under other contingency plans, households and businesses could be handed £10 a day to stop using electricity when needed.

Read Liz Truss's comments in full here

12:25 PM

Avanti West Coast placed on short-term contract

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Transport Secretary, has acted to place Avanti West Coast on a short-term six-month contract, laying down the gauntlet for the operator to deliver an urgent increase in services.

Avanti's previous contract is coming to an end, meaning it will continue to run services until April 1 under the temporary extension. The Government will then consider its performance after "major operational issues" of recent months.

"We need train services which are reliable and resilient to modern-day life," Ms Trevelyan said. "Services on Avanti have been unacceptable and while the company has taken positive steps to get more trains moving, it must do more to deliver certainty of service to its passengers.

"We have agreed a six-month extension to Avanti to assess whether it is capable of running this crucial route to a standard passengers deserve and expect."

It comes after Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, called for the contract to be cancelled yesterday.

12:22 PM

Starmer's Labour some 32 points ahead

Sir Keir Starmer's Labour currently enjoys a poll lead of 32 points, according to the latest People Polling data.

The new firm, led by pollster and academic Matthew Goodwin, puts Labour on 52 per cent of the vote, up two per cent from last week.

The Conservatives remain unchanged, on 20 per cent, while the Liberal Democrats are on eight per cent and the Greens seven per cent.

Labour and the Conservatives are tied on 29 per cent among Leave voters, while 49 per cent of Remain voters would back Labour, with six per cent lending their support to the Tories.

And out of Conservative general election voters surveyed in 2019, only 39 per cent would still back the party. However, they do not seem to be going to Labour (17 per cent) - 24 per cent say they do not know.

12:15 PM

Should Wales have St David's Day off?

All devolved countries except Wales get their own national bank holidays, with Scotland and Northern Ireland celebrating St Andrew's Day (Nov 25 this year) and St Patrick's Day on Mar 17 off respectively.

This is in addition to the eight national holidays afforded to England and Wales, which is the fewest number of bank holidays in Europe.

Sir Robert Buckland made the case for the union - and levelling up Wales - the Conservative Party Conference - Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFe/Shutterstock
Sir Robert Buckland made the case for the union - and levelling up Wales - the Conservative Party Conference - Tolga Akmen/EPA-EFe/Shutterstock

The Welsh Government has repeatedly called for Welsh people to get March 1 off work to celebrate the country's patron saint.

Now Sir Robert Buckland, the Welsh Secretary, thrown his weight behind the cause.

Welsh Secretary: Get rid of May Day holiday for St David's Day

12:05 PM

Tories could lose all their London seats, poll suggests

The Conservatives could lose all of their London seats at the next general election, a new poll has suggested.

Labour are on 59 per cent in the capital, according to a Survation MRP poll for the 38 Degrees campaigning group, while the Tories poll 22 per cent and the Liberal Democrats 13 per cent.

Translated to a general election, Survation's analysis would mean the Conservatives would lose all 21 of the constituencies in the capital that have been blue since the 2019 election.

Gaps between parties tend to close in the run up to general elections, but this polling spells out the scale of the challenge facing Liz Truss after her first few weeks.

11:52 AM

Go for growth with our weekly politics quiz

Get moving, get through the tempest and put yourself on a stronger footing with this week's dose of Telegraph political trivia.

You too will be able to deliver as long as you have followed the news carefully - take our quiz below and hope you don't get any wrong, wrong, wrong:

11:38 AM

Settle down, climate minister tells Nadine Dorries

The new climate minister has told Nadine Dorries to "settle down" after her public criticisms of Liz Truss in the past couple of weeks.

Ms Dorries has had some strong words about Liz Truss's mandate, appearing to suggest her Government had "no mandate" to break from the 2019 general election manifesto.

Nadine Dorries - Leon Neal/Getty Image
Nadine Dorries - Leon Neal/Getty Image

She said there was "widespread dismay at the fact that three years' of work [had] effectively been put on hold".

Asked about her comments, Graham Stuart told Sky News: "I know how bruising it can be when you leave Government, and, you know, I think, what I did, and I would certainly advise Nadine to ... is just to settle down a little while and let the new team get on with the job, and that's what we're doing."

11:30 AM

All smiles ahead of summit

Chris Heaton-Harris, the Northern Ireland Secretary, will attend the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference this afternoon.

Also present are Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, Helen Mcentee, the Irish foreign minister, and Steve Baker, minister of state at the Northern Ireland Office.

Here's the quartet in a feelgood Friday picture:

11:06 AM

Therese Coffey, DHSC, and the public oppose Oxford commas

Ten years after Owen Paterson's own war on the punctuation mark, Therese Coffey raised eyebrows last month as she asked Department for Health workers to stop using the Oxford comma.

However, the Health Secretary was speaking on behalf of a clear majority of the public.

New YouGov polling has shown 56 per cent oppose the Oxford comma, while only 25 per cent prefer to use it and a further 19 per cent do not know.

Oxford comma critics say it is pointless, pedantic and not even grammatically correct. But its defenders argue it adds clarity, structure, and breaks up lists.

10:56 AM

John Glen: So-called 'anti-growth coalition' want the same thing

A backer of Rishi Sunak has appeared to take aim at Liz Truss's description of her political opponents as an "anti-growth coalition".

John Glen wrote on Twitter: "Those who sometimes disagree with me aren’t a part of an anti-growth coalition, they want the same thing - we just disagree about how we get there.

And in an interview with the Salisbury Journal, his local newspaper, Mr Glen added: "I am concerned about the lack of measurement of the growth rate that is asserted as the goal."

10:54 AM

'The nicest, kindest and most unassuming of politicians'

MPs have been paying tribute to James Brokenshire on the first anniversary of his death.

Mr Brokenshire, a former housing and Northern Ireland secretary, died peacefully in hospital on October 7, 2021, four years after he was first diagnosed with lung cancer.

He was hailed by Boris Johnson as the "nicest, kindest and most unassuming of politicians".

James Brokenshire - Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto
James Brokenshire - Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto

Dame Eleanor Laing said her Epping Forest constituents were "so proud of this Loughton boy and all that he achieved - we miss him greatly".

And Louie French, who succeeded Mr Brokenshire as the MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, wrote: "James was taken from us far too young and I know how proud he would be of Cathy’s ongoing campaigning for national lung cancer screening."

10:45 AM

Ben Marlow: Thanks to short-sighted and reckless acts, blackouts are a real threat

Amid all the heightened fears about the current energy crisis, it is easy to forget that Britain is no stranger to power scares, writes Ben Marlow.

In 2013, after a particularly severe winter and faults in a key pipeline, the country came within six hours of running out of gas.

In 2018, supplies dwindled dangerously low again as the Beast from East combined with Storm Emma to batter UK shores with some of the worst weather in decades.

Not forgetting of course that the lights really did go out in the 1970s when Ted Heath was forced to impose a three-day week after the nation was brought to a shuddering halt by striking coal workers. There were also major unplanned outages during the storms of 1987 when over 1.5m people were plunged into darkness.

Ben Marlow: Why are ministers so reluctant to be straight with the public?

10:27 AM

Unions urge Truss to formally drop cuts

Cuts of 91,000 to the civil service must be formally dropped, a leading trade union warned Liz Truss following speculation she had abandoned Boris Johnson's Whitehall reforms.

Mike Clancy, the general secretary of Prospect, said civil servants "deserve better than constant briefings" about their job security.

"Any announcement should be made formally and alongside a withdrawal of proposals to reduce redundancy terms for staff," Mr Clancy said.

"Until that happens, dedicated public servants will remain concerned for their future.

"After 12 years of cuts and now soaring inflation which means more huge real term budget cuts pushing services to the brink, the idea that further 'efficiency savings' can be found in departmental budgets is absurd."

10:23 AM

Friend or foe? Liz Truss finally has an answer

Liz Truss finally declared Emmanuel Macron a "friend" last night after he agreed to work with Britain to stop migrants crossing the Channel, James Crisp and Joe Barnes report.

The Prime Minister caused controversy during her leadership campaign in August when she said that the "jury’s out" on whether the French president was a "friend or foe" to the UK.

Liz Truss and Emmanuel Macron - Alastair Grant/Pool via Reuters
Liz Truss and Emmanuel Macron - Alastair Grant/Pool via Reuters

Mr Macron later suggested it was a "problem" if Britain could not call itself a friend of France. After speaking with Mr Macron on the margins of the first European Political Community summit of EU and non-EU nations in Prague, Ms Truss said: "He is a friend."

Why the jury is no longer out on Macron

10:18 AM

Starmer warns of house price 'shocks'

Sir Keir Starmer said there was "no market confidence" in the Government as he warned of potential "shocks" to house prices after mortgage rates rise.

Mortgage rates have increased after Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-Budget last month, leading Savills to warn a downturn could wipe out the past two years of growth in London's housing market.

"I can see further shocks coming out of this unless the government changes course," Sir Keir told City AM.

"The broader thing is confidence, because we talk about the market reaction as an abstract – it’s not. It’s people investing huge amounts of money who don’t have confidence in what the government did in that kamikaze mini-Budget."

10:12 AM

Nicola Sturgeon: Gender recognition process is 'traumatic'

Nicola Sturgeon said the current gender recognition process is "traumatic" and "stigmatising" after a protest outside the Scottish Parliament over new legislation.

The Scottish First Minister told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The Gender Recognition Bill is about reforming an existing process. It doesn't give any more rights to trans people and doesn't take away any rights from women.

Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions on Thursday - Ken Jack/Getty Images
Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions on Thursday - Ken Jack/Getty Images

"Men are the risk to women, not trans women. Any man who seeks to abuse any process to attack women, we should deal with that. We shouldn't stigmatise further an already stigmatised group of people.

"The current process is stigmatising, it's traumatic, it's asking people to prove that they are mentally unwell. So a trans person who wants to change gender, the process that is set out in the Bill is less traumatic and less stigmatising.

"If anybody seeks to misuse (the proposed) process... to abuse women, that would be a criminal offence that they would be committing."

10:03 AM

Net zero should not be at 'top of' every deal, suggests trade minister

The new trade minister said he had already started "pushing back internally" against putting net zero "at the top" of every single deal signed.

Conor Burns, who previously worked as a Northern Ireland minister, told Playbook: "I have already started pushing back internally in my first two weeks in the department on what seems to have been a determination by [the Department for International Trade], which changed since I was last there, to push net-zero and the environment to the top of every single trade agreement as a sort of policy objective."

09:53 AM

'The coalition encompasses almost everyone'

The Labour Party, obviously. The Liberal Democrats, of course, as well as the Scottish Nationalists, and anyone who has ever visited north London, writes Matthew Lynn.

Liz Truss didn’t quite get around to including Jamie Oliver, Peppa Pig, and that guy who used to be in One Direction who isn’t Harry Styles among the supporters of the Anti-Growth Coalition in her speech to the Conservative Party conference yesterday.

And yet, for all the flak she received, the only real flaw in her analysis was this: the coalition she is taking on is far, far mightier than anyone seems yet to have realised.

The AGC, as it should probably be known, has now been defined as the enemy of Truss's administration, and overcoming it her overriding mission.

Why the Anti-Growth Coalition is bigger than you think

09:37 AM

'We will take no lessons from Labour'

The possibility of blackouts this winter is a "direct result" of Tory energy policy, Ed Miliband has claimed.

Mr Miliband, a former Labour leader and the party's current shadow climate and net zero secretary, said successive governments "banning onshore wind, stalling on energy efficiency and failing on nuclear" had led to "higher bills and reliance on imports".

But Greg Hands, a former Tory energy and climate change minister, accused the opposition of "nonsense".

"On nuclear, it was Labour who in 1997 said they 'could see no economic case for new nuclear power stations', which set the UK back a generation," Mr Hands said.

"On energy efficiency, Ed and Labour left office in 2010 with only an appalling 14 per cent of UK homes being rated in the top brackets (A-C) for energy efficiency - now that figure is 46 per cent and rising. There is still much to do here - but we will take no lessons from Labour."

09:27 AM

'New air of positivity' on Brexit creates 'flicker of optimism'

Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister has said a new "era of positivity" has created a "flicker of optimism" about finding a resolution to the Northern Ireland Protocol issues.

Simon Coveney said relationships were changing and there were efforts on both sides to improve trust in Dublin and London on a "very difficult" issue to resolve.

It came after Steve Baker apologised to the European Union for "not always behaving" during Brexit negotiations.

Simon Coveney (left) pictured with Chris Heaton-Harris, the new Northern Ireland Secretary - Niall Carson/PA Wire
Simon Coveney (left) pictured with Chris Heaton-Harris, the new Northern Ireland Secretary - Niall Carson/PA Wire

Speaking on Irish broadcaster RTE Radio 1's Morning Ireland programme, Mr Coveney said: "There is certainly a new era of positivity and I think that has created a flicker of optimism."

He said only "time will tell" whether an agreement can be reached, adding: "There's a lot of warm language at the moment. I don't think we should get carried away with that.

Gareth Davies, our Breaking News Editor, has the latest

09:20 AM

Senior Tory questions 'too interventionist' logic

Simon Hoare - the Tory chairman of the Northern Ireland committee, who has already emerged as a critical voice on the backbenches during the Truss administration - appeared to add to calls for an energy campaign.

Mr Hoare retweeted a post that reads: "We are using vast amounts of taxpayers’ money to pay for energy bills this winter, but the argument for not launching a public energy saving campaign is because it is too interventionist?"

09:10 AM

Yes to an energy campaign... but no to the price tag

Maria Caulfield, the Tory MP for Lewes, suggested an energy-saving campaign would not be worth the money.

Ms Caulfield said: "I’m all for an energy saving campaign this winter but do we need to spend £15 million to do that?

"The PM is right to question if this is the best use of taxpayers' money."

09:01 AM

Tory MP: I'm fully behind an energy-saving campaign

A former Tory minister has broken ranks after the Government decided against a public information campaign on saving energy amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Guy Opperman, who was the pensions minister until his departure from the frontbench last month, said he was "fully behind" the idea, which the climate minister said in the past hour would be reminiscent of a "nanny state".

"The obvious reductions pursued by France, Germany and others in the public sector are no public buildings warmer than 19C, turn off overnight lighting of buildings and adverts etc, turn off hot water for hand washing and public spaces," he wrote on Twitter.

"All basic but simple stuff to help supply issues. This is not nanny state. It is preserving supply, saving money for everyone, and encouraging localism. The example of Germany, which is in a massive energy crisis, way worse than the UK, is worth following."

08:46 AM

Energy campaign 'would probably make no difference'

The Government is not "nanny state" and will not press ahead with a reported public information drive on using energy this winter, a minister has insisted.

Here is what Graham Stuart had to say on LBC as he warned such a campaign risked Britons learning the "wrong lessons":

Technically, a general campaign about reducing energy would probably make no difference to our energy security. So, that would be a good reason not to do it.

We're also hesitant to tell people what they should do when we're not a nanny-state government. What we are prepared to do is talk to the big energy users and talk to consumers with smart technology about rewarding them for reducing energy at the peak times.

The danger is if you had a sort of general 'use less energy' message that the wrong lessons would be taken on board by people.

08:34 AM

Doreen Lawrence and Prince Harry among those taking legal action against Daily Mail publisher

Lawyers for Doreen Lawrence have accused the Daily Mail of "abhorrent criminal activity"after launching a legal claim against the newspaper which campaigned to bring her son’s killers to justice, Robert Mendick and Phoebe Southworth report.

Baroness Lawrence has lodged a High Court claim along with Prince Harry, Sir Elton John and other celebrities over allegations that Associated Newspapers engaged in "unlawful acts" including hiring private detectives to place secret listening devices inside people’s cars and homes.

Last night, the publishers dismissed the allegations as "preposterous smears" and an "orchestrated attempt" to drag the Mail into the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed rival tabloids. It said there was "no credible evidence" to back up the allegations.

Read more: Associated Newspapers dismisses 'preposterous smears'

08:22 AM

Revealed: The Brexiteers and Tory donors due to get peerages

Brexit-backing Conservatives who supported Boris Johnson will be appointed to the House of Lords within days to reduce the chances of Tory legislation being defeated.

The Telegraph can reveal the full list of political peerages that is on the brink of being announced by Downing Street, subject to last-minute tweaks.

There are 15 Conservatives on the current list to become new peers, more than all the other political parties combined. Labour is due to get just eight new Lords.

Ben Riley-Smith, our Political Editor, has the full list

08:17 AM

Nadhim Zahawi 'sorry' for turmoil that followed mini-Budget

Nadhim Zahawi has apologised on Question Time for the economic turmoil that followed the Government's mini budget.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was forced to make the apology after clashing with Talk TV presenter Piers Morgan last night:

08:12 AM

'We plan for all eventualities'

Energy rationing and blackouts are "not our expectation at all", Graham Stuart said this morning.

He emphasised that ministers plan for "all eventualities", but asked about the prospect of rationing or three-hour blackouts, he told Sky: "We don’t expect that to occur, that’s not our expectation at all.

"The public should be confident we have a very strong and diverse supply, that we’ve taken all the steps to look after our needs this winter, and of course we’ve been and - the Prime Minister's been really focused on this - [which] is making sure that we aren’t in as vulnerable a position ever again in future."

08:03 AM

Government won't say 'switch things off for the national need'

Households' energy use "doesn't make any difference" to national energy security apart from at peak time, the climate minister has argued.

Graham Stuart said there were "good reasons" why people may want to take measures such as having a shower instead of a bath "because it cuts their energy bills".

"Most of the time, except in peak [time] because of the nature of our energy system, it doesn’t make any difference to our energy security," he told Sky News.

"It’s different in Germany, it’s different in Holland. The last thing you want to do is tell someone 'switch things off for the national need' when it makes no difference to the national security position.

"That’s why you’ve got to look at these things in the round and make sure you get the messages in the most nuanced and subtle and effective way possible."

07:59 AM

Good morning

Dominic Penna here, the Telegraph's Political Reporter, guiding you through all of today's latest news and developments.

There were reports overnight a £15million public information campaign on saving energy, supported by Jacob Rees-Mogg, had been blocked at the insistence of Downing Street.

However Graham Stuart, the climate minister, has dismissed the idea of a "highly-developed" plan this morning, while confirming Britons would not be told to use less energy in the coming months.