PMQs: Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer ahead of rumoured cabinet reshuffle – UK politics live
(32 minutes later)
Latest updates: prime minister to face Labour leader in Commons before a rumoured cabinet overhaul later today
Starmer says low paid people cannot work the extra hours to recoup the money. And they would need to do that because of the broken tax system. For every extra pound earned, the government will take 75p. Why is the PM hammering them with a tax rise?
Johnson claims payments are being increased. He claims it was incredible that the party of Nye Bevan voted against more money for the NHS last week. They do not have a plan to fix the NHS, he says.
Starmer says people would have to work an extra nine hours to make up the money. That is an extra day. How will people find the time?
Johnson says the government is taking measures to raise wages. It is investing in skills. The government wants a high wage economy, with controlled immigration. Labour wants low wages and uncontrolled immigration, he says.
Starmer says Johnson did not answer the question. The work and pensions secretary thinks the answer is two hours. Is the correct answer higher or lower?
Johnson says wages are rising. Labour want to take money from people and put them into higher benefits. Johnson says he wants people to earn more. He praises a Costa Coffee initiative and says if we had listened to “Captain Hindsight” (Starmer) we would still be in lockdown.
Sir Keir Starmer offers his condolences following the death of the PM’s mother and asks how many extra hours someone on universal credit would have to work to make up for the £20 they will lose under the government’s cut.
Johnson says every single UC claimant would lose under the Labour’s plan because they want to abolish the benefit.
Caroline Nokes (Con) asks about children affected by sodium valproate.
Johnson says the government is committed to accepting the recommendations of the Cumberlege Review, that considered this.
Boris Johnson starts by congratulating Emma Raducanu and other players for their victories in the US Open.
PMQs is starting shortly.
Here is the list of MPs down to ask a question.
Here is some more reshuffle comment/speculation.
From the FT’s Sebastian Payne
From my colleague Jessica Elgot
From the Telegraph’s Cat Neilan
From the Daily Mirror’s Rachel Wearmouth
Three sources have told the Guardian that Boris Johnson is planning to finally overhaul his cabinet with a reshuffle later today.
There has been no denial from Downing Street and civil servant are on high alert for a change of secretary of state in their department.
Diaries have been cleared and “first day” plans for inducting new ministers are at the ready.
Special advisers - whose jobs often depend on whether their minister gets to keep their job - are also conceding they expect a reshuffle today.
After weeks of speculation, it could be that Wednesday is finally the day. Some believe the timing makes sense because Johnson is away at the UN general assembly meeting next week, parliament is soon to break up for conference recess, and an overhaul of the cabinet is badly needed.
However, others have been sceptical, thinking it would be difficult to move ministers just weeks before Conservative party conference where they are due to make major speeches, ahead of the spending review and before Cop26 in November.
“At least it will - finally - be gotten out of the way,” one exasperated frontbencher said.
This is from the Times’s George Grylls.
Paul Goodman has a good guide to some of the issues affecting reshuffle decisions in a ConservativeHome article here.
This is from Sky’s Sam Coates on the reshuffle.
And these are from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.
Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, has claimed the plan B contingency measures announced by the government yesterday will be “hopeless” if Covid cases get out of control. In a statement he argued the measures in the autumn and winter plan would make another lockdown more likely, not less likely. He said:
Dr David Nabarro, World Health Organization special envoy for Covid, said this morning that he was unhappy about the UK government’s decision to vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds. He told Sky News that he thought those vaccine supplies would be better used in the developing world. He said:
The Commons culture committee has urged the government to block Paul Dacre, the former Daily Mail editor, from re-applying to be chair of Ofcom.
In a statement issued this morning, the Conservative MP Julian Knight, who chairs the committee, said it was “extremely alarming” that the government was minded to let Dacre apply again after his application was rejected earlier this year by an application board.
Dacre, a fierce supporter of Brexit who in the past has been critical of supposed leftish bias in the BBC, is understood to be Boris Johnson’s preferred candidate for the post, which would put him in charge of the body responsible for regulating broadcasting.
But earlier this year the interview panel set up to vet the final four candidates for the job decided that Dacre was “not appointable”. Rather than appoint one of the other three top candidates, Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, decided to re-run the contest to give Dacre a second chance.
This morning Knight released the text of a letter he has sent, on behalf of his committee, to the culture department saying the new recruitment process defines the qualities needed in the next Ofcom chair in almost identical terms to the way the job was described in the original job specification.
But normally when a recruitment process for a post like this is re-run, previous candidates deemed unsuitable are told not to reapply. The culture department has not done that in this case, but Knight said it should.
In a statement he said:
In his morning interviews Sajid Javid, the health secretary, also said Covid restrictions would return if the virus got “out of control” again this year. My colleague Aubrey Allegretti has the story here.
The Scottish parliament’s governing body is refusing to back down on “unjustified” plans which could affect protesters outside the Holyrood building, as the Scottish Greens – who signed a cooperation deal with the SNP government last month – demand a rethink.
The parliament’s governing body has insisted it is not seeking to limit or curb protest outside the Holyrood building, after serious objections have been raised by opposition parties, legal experts and campaigners over plans to make the parliament a “protected site”. This would give the building the protection already in place for the House of Commons and the Welsh Senedd and would give Police Scotland the authority to remove protesters who were there without lawful authority and impose fines.
Holyrood’s corporate body has refused to publish its reasons, and yesterday Green MSP Gillian Mackay argued in the chamber that there had been no consultation with MSPs or the public.
But Scottish Labour MSP Claire Baker, speaking for the body, “categorically” assured fellow MSPs that people’s right to protest outside parliament would not change.
With the Scottish Lib Dems also demanded more detail on how the plans will work, this row looks set to run.
There is increasing speculation that Boris Johnson may start on his reshuffle after PMQs today. This is from ITV’s political editor, Robert Peston.
And this is from his BBC counterpart, Laura Kuenssberg.
Good morning. Sajid Javid, the health secretary, has been doing a morning interview round this morning, and he has been asked why Conservative ministers and MPs are so reluctant to wear masks. It is because when they are at Westminster they are not with strangers, he said. This is what he told Sky News when asked why no one was wearing a mask at yesterday’s crowded cabinet meeting.
And he used the same argument when asked why so few Conservative MPs wear masks in the Commons chamber (even though the parliamentary authorities say wearing a mask there is “strongly advised”). He told Times Radio:
The government’s autumn and winter Covid plan (pdf) published yesterday does advise wearing a face covering “in crowded and enclosed settings where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet”.
But Labour has mocked Javid for suggesting that people might not catch Covid from someone they know. This is from the deputy party leader, Angela Rayner.
Here is the agenda for the day.
10am: Lord Deben, chair of the climate change committee, gives evidence to the Commons housing, communities and local government committee.
10.15am: Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, gives evidence to the Lords constitution committee.
10.30am: Robert Buckland, the justice secretary, gives evidence to the Lords justice and home affairs committee.
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer at PMQs.
Around 1pm: MPs start debating a Labour motion saying the £20 per week cut to universal credit planned for next month should be abandoned. The vote will be at about 4pm.
2pm: Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, and other Greater Manchester leaders hold a press conference on Covid.
For further Covid coverage, do read our global live blog.
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