Labour calls for investigation into claims Liz Truss failed to declare donations – UK politics live | Politics


Labour calls for investigation into claims Truss failed to declare donations

Labour has called for an investigation into claims Liz Truss broke strict spending rules by failing to declare thousands of pounds spent on a champagne dinner attended by Conservative MPs.

The Tory leadership frontrunner is under pressure to answer questions over a “Fizz with Liz” event held last October at a private members’ club in Mayfair, London, reportedly paid for by the millionaire businessman Robin Birley.

According to the Independent, about a dozen Tory MPs are said to have attended the function – reportedly worth £3,000. It said Truss’s office sent an invitation to MPs.

Truss is now facing questions about why she did not declare the thousands of pounds worth of hospitality spent on the event. MPs are required to declare to parliament’s register of interests any gifts worth more than £300, including hospitality. Truss’s team told the paper that it was “not organised for her, on her behalf or by her”.

Truss has “serious questions” to answer about the event, according to the Labour deputy leader, Angela Rayner, and the shadow Commons leader, Thangam Debbonaire.

The pair wrote in a letter to the cabinet secretary, Simon Case:

There are questions about whether the foreign secretary was acting in her ministerial capacity, or her capacity as a member of parliament – however she failed in her duty on both counts.

They added:

As foreign secretary, it is likely Conservative members attended this event in order to be in the company of the foreign secretary, and it would therefore be expected that she would make ministerial declarations in the usual way.

There are serious questions for the foreign secretary to answer about why she failed to declare this large sum of hospitality funding, and why she now claims she had ‘nothing to do’ with the event’s organisation, despite sending out personal invitations to all attendees.

They also said:

We ask that you do the necessary investigation into the numerous questions raised by these allegations. The public has a right to know why such a significant donation for hospitality was not properly declared by the foreign secretary.

A spokesperson for Truss told the Independent:

It was not organised for her, on her behalf or by her. She was invited by Robin Birley with loads of MPs. It was put on by Mr Birley to discuss low tax and deregulation.

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My colleagues Heather Stewart, Aubrey Allegretti and Jessica Elgot have the full write-up of the political response to the Bank of England’s forecasts:

Rishi Sunak has seized on the Bank of England’s historic half-point rate rise to claim that Liz Truss’s plan for unfunded tax cuts would “make everyone poorer”.

The Bank’s gloomy forecasts, published alongside the rate decision, underline the scale of the challenge facing the next prime minister, with the economy projected to plunge into a prolonged recession by the end of the year.

Despite the dire economic outlook, the Guardian has learned the chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, is away from Westminster, as the caretaker government takes a back seat while the leadership contest rages.

Zahawi was said to be working remotely from a family holiday.

In a statement, the chancellor said:

There is no such thing as a holiday and not working. I never had that in the private sector, nor in government. Ask any entrepreneur and they can tell you that.

He added:

Millions of us dream about getting away with our families, but the privilege and responsibility of public service means that you never get to switch off, that’s why I have had calls and briefings every day and continue to do so.”

The prime minister is currently on holiday. Zahawi put out a written statement on the Bank’s announcement and is holding meetings with its governor, Andrew Bailey, later on Thursday and the Treasury’s chief economist.

Sunak, the underdog in the leadership race, has repeatedly said throughout the contest that he would wait until inflation was under control, before embarking on a tax-cutting spree.

By contrast, Truss has promised £30bn worth of tax cuts, which Sunak has claimed would push up borrowing and boost inflation.

Read the full article here.

Labour calls for investigation into claims Truss failed to declare donations

Labour has called for an investigation into claims Liz Truss broke strict spending rules by failing to declare thousands of pounds spent on a champagne dinner attended by Conservative MPs.

The Tory leadership frontrunner is under pressure to answer questions over a “Fizz with Liz” event held last October at a private members’ club in Mayfair, London, reportedly paid for by the millionaire businessman Robin Birley.

According to the Independent, about a dozen Tory MPs are said to have attended the function – reportedly worth £3,000. It said Truss’s office sent an invitation to MPs.

Truss is now facing questions about why she did not declare the thousands of pounds worth of hospitality spent on the event. MPs are required to declare to parliament’s register of interests any gifts worth more than £300, including hospitality. Truss’s team told the paper that it was “not organised for her, on her behalf or by her”.

Truss has “serious questions” to answer about the event, according to the Labour deputy leader, Angela Rayner, and the shadow Commons leader, Thangam Debbonaire.

The pair wrote in a letter to the cabinet secretary, Simon Case:

There are questions about whether the foreign secretary was acting in her ministerial capacity, or her capacity as a member of parliament – however she failed in her duty on both counts.

They added:

As foreign secretary, it is likely Conservative members attended this event in order to be in the company of the foreign secretary, and it would therefore be expected that she would make ministerial declarations in the usual way.

There are serious questions for the foreign secretary to answer about why she failed to declare this large sum of hospitality funding, and why she now claims she had ‘nothing to do’ with the event’s organisation, despite sending out personal invitations to all attendees.

They also said:

We ask that you do the necessary investigation into the numerous questions raised by these allegations. The public has a right to know why such a significant donation for hospitality was not properly declared by the foreign secretary.

A spokesperson for Truss told the Independent:

It was not organised for her, on her behalf or by her. She was invited by Robin Birley with loads of MPs. It was put on by Mr Birley to discuss low tax and deregulation.

Labour has called on the government to scrap tax breaks for oil and gas producers as more families are pushed into financial difficulty.

Responding to the Bank of England’s forecast, the shadow Treasury minister Pat McFadden said:

The Bank of England’s forecasts show us how hard this crisis is hitting families, how much is left to come and how vulnerable 12 years of economic mismanagement by the Conservatives has left us.

Not only is this the highest rate increase in 25 years, but inflation could hit 13% while real wages fall, pushing more and more families into financial difficulty.

The government must act fast if we are going to avoid one of the worst recessions since the 1990s, by scrapping tax breaks on oil and gas producers and providing more help to people who are struggling to pay their energy bills.

Amid the Bank of England’s worst outlook for the economy since the 2008 banking crash, it seems that the chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, is not available for interviews as he is with his family while they are on holiday.

My colleague, Aubrey Allegretti, reports:

Dire economic forecasts for the year ahead, so where is the chancellor?

I’m told Nadhim Zahawi is working remotely with his family while they are on holiday.

Broadcasters have bid for an interview with him but been told he’s not available.

— Aubrey Allegretti (@breeallegretti) August 4, 2022

Zahawi says: “There is no such thing as a holiday and not working… The privilege and responsibility of public service means that you never get to switch off, that’s why I have had calls and briefings every day and continue to do so.”

— Aubrey Allegretti (@breeallegretti) August 4, 2022

Zahawi has meetings with the Bank’s governor and HM Treasury’s chief economist later today, Allegretti adds.

The Guardian’s Josh Halliday has been looking at the effect of the cost of living crisis in Rishi Sunak’s constituency.

You can read his report here:

Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss said:

Today’s news underlines the need for the bold economic plan that I am advocating.

We need to take immediate action to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, grow the economy and delivering as much support to people as possible.

As prime minister, I’d use an emergency budget to kickstart my plan to get our economy growing and offer immediate help to people struggling with their bills.

Through supply-side reforms, dealing with burdensome business regulation and cutting taxes, I will get our economy back on track. My tax cuts are necessary, affordable and not inflationary.

You cannot tax your way to growth. Business as usual will not do. Instead, we need a new approach on the economy, we need to challenge the failing economic orthodoxy and we need to deliver the necessary reform to tackle inflation and achieve sustainable growth.

The Conservative former chancellor Ken Clarke has suggested that Liz Truss’s plan for immediate tax cuts could make inflation “worse” and risks “contributing to the problem”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One, he warned of a “very unpleasant” winter for many households in the country following news that the Bank of England has pushed interest rates up 0.5 percentage points.

He said:

Nothing is certain, but I’ve thought for some time we faced the risk of an extremely serious recession. This winter is certainly going to be very unpleasant for many households in the country and I think it’s absolutely inevitable the Bank of England acted as it did.

He also said:

I very much hope we don’t see an increase in the number of people destitute in this country. We already have too many people in abject poverty and the number is likely to rise, and I think the government should be looking at things that help the very poorest and the very low-paid, and things like universal credit.

What we don’t want is immediate tax cuts which cheer up the better off and are particularly valuable to the very wealthy.

An immediate tax cut could make inflation worse, he said, adding:

It’d really run the risk of contributing to the problem so I don’t think tax cuts are terribly relevant at the moment.

I think targeted help for the poorest and less well-paid is justified – they’ve done some of that already and I think they may have to do more.

BoE forecasts ‘concerning for many people’, says chancellor

The chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, has published a statement following news that the Bank of England has pushed interest rates up 0.5 percentage points.

Zahawi said he was aware that the forecasts “will be concerning for many people”. He went on to say:

Addressing the cost of living is a top priority and we have been taking action to support people through these tough times with our 37 billion package of help for households, which includes direct payments of 1,200 to the most vulnerable families and a 400 discount on energy bills for everyone.

He added:

We are also taking important steps to get inflation under control through strong, independent monetary policy, responsible tax and spending decisions, and reforms to boost our productivity and growth.

The economy recovered strongly from the pandemic, with the fastest growth in the G7 last year, and I’m confident that the action we are taking means we can also overcome these global challenges.

Rory Carroll

Rory Carroll

Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Féin’s first minister designate, has sparked a backlash in Northern Ireland for saying there was “no alternative” to the IRA’s armed campaign during the Troubles.

O’Neill suggested the Irish Republican Army, which killed about half of the 3,600 people killed during the 30-year conflict, had no choice but to shoot and bomb until the 1998 Good Friday agreement.

“I don’t think any Irish person ever woke up one morning and thought that conflict was a good idea, but the war came to Ireland,” she told the BBC in an interview broadcast this week. “I think at the time there was no alternative, but now, thankfully, we have an alternative to conflict and that’s the Good Friday agreement.”

Unionist politicians and victims’ rights groups accused O’Neill of ignoring historical reality and justifying mass murder.

“There was never a justification for violence,” said Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist party.

Even in Northern Ireland’s darkest days the overwhelming majority of our people respected democracy, the rule of law and – where they felt passionately about a particular cause – took part in peaceful protest. Sinn Féin can pretend there was no alternative but they are condemned by the facts.

Read the full article here.

Denis Campbell

Denis Campbell

NHS leaders have accused Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak of offering “glib soundbites, gimmicks and political rhetoric” on the health service rather than proper solutions to its growing crisis.

The NHS Confederation levelled that criticism today when it published letters it had sent to the two contenders in the Conservative leadership race to become the UK’s next prime minister.

It urged the foreign secretary and ex-chancellor to be much more honest about the depth of the problems affecting the NHS and the scale and cost of the policies needed to address that.

Its intervention comes after Sunak was ridiculed for proposing £10 fines for people who fail to attend GP appointments. Truss faced questions over how her commitment to scrapping the national insurance rise and reducing taxes generally would affect NHS funding.

Danny Mortimer, the confederation’s deputy chief executive, said that as the Conservative party leadership race entered its final weeks “healthcare leaders are approaching winter with a real sense of foreboding”.

Mortimer said:

They are urging both the remaining candidates to inject their public debate with a sense of urgency and show a real understanding about the huge pressures the NHS and social care are under.

Now is not the time for glib soundbites, gimmicks and political rhetoric. The NHS needs the new head of government to set out a realistic reset on health and social care.

He added:

We need both Mr Sunak and Ms Truss to demonstrate a heavy dose of realism about the state of the NHS and the promise of an open, frank and honest conversation about what this means.

The confederation is an important NHS body because it represents hospitals and other NHS providers of care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In a plea to the contenders, Mortimer urged them to disavow Boris Johnson’s repeated insistence – which is not backed by evidence – that the crumbling social care system has been “fixed”.

He added:

To truly level with the public they must acknowledge that this means crumbling buildings and ill-equipped outdated estate, 105,000 NHS staff and 165,000 social care vacancies at the last count, and a social care system in desperate need of repair and very far from being fixed, as the current prime minister would have us believe.

NHS bosses want the next prime minister to bring forward three major policies to help relieve the huge pressure it is under: a capital investment programme to upgrade and replace outdated facilities; a detailed plan to address the service’s chronic workforce shortages; and emergency help for social care.

In response to the Bank of England’s interest hike, Rishi Sunak said he would “prioritise gripping inflation, growing the economy and then cutting taxes”.

The former chancellor said it was “imperative that any future government grips inflation, not exacerbates it”.

Sunak added:

Increasing borrowing will put upward pressure on interest rates, which will mean increased payments on people’s mortgages. It will also make high inflation and high prices last for longer, making everyone poorer.

Labour says interest rates hikes ‘further proof that Tories have lost control of economy’

The Bank of England’s decision to raise interest rates by 0.5 percentage points is “further proof” the Conservative party has lost control of the economy, Labour has said.

The shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, said:

As families and pensioners worry about how they’re going to pay their bills, the Tory leadership candidates are touring the country announcing unworkable policies that will do nothing to help people get through this crisis.

Labour would help households right now by removing the tax breaks that are subsidising oil and gas producers and using that money to help people now, including by cutting VAT on energy bills. (3/4)

— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) August 4, 2022

Phillip Inman

Phillip Inman

The Bank of England has raised interest rates by 0.5 percentage points to tackle the soaring cost of living, despite concerns that the economy is heading for a recession.

In the biggest increase in rates in 27 years, policymakers at the central bank voted to raise the base rate for a sixth time in succession to 1.75%, in line with the expectations of City economists. The decision takes UK rates to the highest level since the end of 2008.

The Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) has been increasing the cost of borrowing since December in response to increasing rates of inflation, made worse by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has sent the cost of gas rising to record highs.

Inflation increased to 9.4% in the year to June and is expected to rise further over the coming months.

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