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Labour says Johnson is breaking election promise with army reorganisation – UK politics live Labour says Johnson is breaking election promise with army reorganisation – UK politics live
(32 minutes later)
Latest updates: Labour says PM has broken promise not to cut size of the army after restructuring announcedLatest updates: Labour says PM has broken promise not to cut size of the army after restructuring announced
This is from General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, who as chief of the general staff is head of the army, on the army restructuring announced today.
The army says it is the most radical transformation it has undergone for 20 years.
Here is more from Sky’s Deborah Haynes on the army restructuring.
During his Commons statement Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, was asked by the Lib Dem MP Jamie Stone if the army restructuring announced today would discourage people from seeking a career in the military. Quite the opposite, argued Wallace, who served as an officer in the Scots Guards in the 1990s. In an response that revealed quite a lot about the motivations of people joining the army, Wallace said:
This is what John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, told MPs earlier when he said the army restructuring announced today (see 1.21pm) showed Boris Johnson had broken his election promise not to cut the size of the armed forces. Healey said:This is what John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, told MPs earlier when he said the army restructuring announced today (see 1.21pm) showed Boris Johnson had broken his election promise not to cut the size of the armed forces. Healey said:
The Conservative manifesto did not include a promise to maintain the size of the armed forces, but Johnson did make this promise at an event during the election campaign.The Conservative manifesto did not include a promise to maintain the size of the armed forces, but Johnson did make this promise at an event during the election campaign.
Healey also said the plan would leave the army too small. He said:Healey also said the plan would leave the army too small. He said:
The Ministry of Defence has now published a summary of its “Future Soldier” plan to restructure the army.The Ministry of Defence has now published a summary of its “Future Soldier” plan to restructure the army.
And this is what Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said about it in his opening statement to MPs.And this is what Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said about it in his opening statement to MPs.
In the Commons Priti Patel, the home secretary, has just started making a statement about the deaths of 27 people who drowned trying to cross the Channel in a small boat yesterday. My colleague Damien Gayle is covering what she says in our live blog on the tragedy.In the Commons Priti Patel, the home secretary, has just started making a statement about the deaths of 27 people who drowned trying to cross the Channel in a small boat yesterday. My colleague Damien Gayle is covering what she says in our live blog on the tragedy.
HM Revenue and Customs has struck a deal to relocate tax officials into a new office complex in Newcastle owned by major Conservative party donors through an offshore company based in a tax haven, my colleague Harry Davies and Rowena Mason report.HM Revenue and Customs has struck a deal to relocate tax officials into a new office complex in Newcastle owned by major Conservative party donors through an offshore company based in a tax haven, my colleague Harry Davies and Rowena Mason report.
According to Sky’s Sam Coates, members of the executive committee of the Conservative 1922 Committee gave the impression they liked what they heard after they left their meeting with Boris Johnson at No 10. (See 12.40pm.)According to Sky’s Sam Coates, members of the executive committee of the Conservative 1922 Committee gave the impression they liked what they heard after they left their meeting with Boris Johnson at No 10. (See 12.40pm.)
Nigel Huddleston, the sports minister, told MPs earlier that the government would “work at pace” on setting up an independent regulator for football. He was responding to an urgent question about the fan-led review of football governance led by the former sports minister, Tracey Crouch.Nigel Huddleston, the sports minister, told MPs earlier that the government would “work at pace” on setting up an independent regulator for football. He was responding to an urgent question about the fan-led review of football governance led by the former sports minister, Tracey Crouch.
Huddleston said:Huddleston said:
But Huddleston also said the government could not “commit 100%” to implementing all the report’s recommendations.But Huddleston also said the government could not “commit 100%” to implementing all the report’s recommendations.
The report is here (pdf), and here is my colleague Paul MacInnes’s overnight preview story about it.The report is here (pdf), and here is my colleague Paul MacInnes’s overnight preview story about it.
According to Bloomberg’s Kitty Donaldson, Boris Johnson has had a meeting this morning with the executive of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, the shop stewards of the Conservative parliamentary party. It must have been a fascinating meeting, although the 1922 executive are a relatively discreet bunch and so we may learn little about what was actually said.According to Bloomberg’s Kitty Donaldson, Boris Johnson has had a meeting this morning with the executive of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, the shop stewards of the Conservative parliamentary party. It must have been a fascinating meeting, although the 1922 executive are a relatively discreet bunch and so we may learn little about what was actually said.
Deborah Haynes, Sky’s defence editor, has more on the Wallace statement.Deborah Haynes, Sky’s defence editor, has more on the Wallace statement.
And here is her preview story on the announcement.And here is her preview story on the announcement.
Responding for Labour, John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, says today’s announcement contradicts a promise made by Boris Johnson during the 2019 election campaign not to cut the size of the armed forces.Responding for Labour, John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, says today’s announcement contradicts a promise made by Boris Johnson during the 2019 election campaign not to cut the size of the armed forces.
Johnson may take his promises lightly, but Labour does not, says Healey.Johnson may take his promises lightly, but Labour does not, says Healey.
He says, despite Ben Wallace’s claims, this restructuring is driven by the need to save money.He says, despite Ben Wallace’s claims, this restructuring is driven by the need to save money.
He says this plan will leave the British army “too small, too thinly-stretched and too poorly-equipped” to deal with the threats the UK faces.He says this plan will leave the British army “too small, too thinly-stretched and too poorly-equipped” to deal with the threats the UK faces.
Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, is making a statement to MPs about restructuring the army.
The army will have to adapt to face the threats of the future, he says.
It will have to be forward-looking and adaptable. It must have not just the best force structure, but it must also restructure on schedule and within budget.
He says the army of the future must be leaner and more productive. And he identifies priorities for the restructuring.
It must be globally engaged, with regional hubs in places like Kenya. It must be a key contributor to Nato, and capable of fielding a division. It will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. It will have integration at its heart, with regulars, reservists and civil servants working together. And the army will benefit the whole of the union.
He says there will be a new Ranger Regiment, an elite combat unit.
He says there will be a major restructuring of the administrative divisions of the infantry. Numbers will reduce, he says.
He also says there will be radical restructuring at the top, with the size of HQ reduced by 40%.
The Home Office has said that today’s figures showing asylum claims in the UK at their highest level for almost 20 years (see 11.42am) show the need for the nationality and borders bill. A Home Office spokesperson said:
The bill will cut the rights of people who come to the UK to seek asylum, and could lead to them being jailed for up to four years. Lawyers have argued that it would breach national and international law in multiple ways. But the government argues that the measures will make Channel crossings a less attractive option for migrants.
Asylum claims made in the UK have risen to their highest level for nearly 20 years, according to new figures from the Home Office. PA Media reports:
Two columns around this morning are particularly worth reading for what they say about the problems the Conservative party is facing. They both make the argument that Tories are not sure what their government stands for anymore.
This is from James Forsyth in the Spectator.
And this is from Robert Shrimsley in the FT.
A Cabinet Office minister has denied that a recent comment by Boris Johnson came close to an admission that the Conservative party has been selling peerages.
During questions in the Commons, the SNP’s Brendan O’Hara highlighted the Johnson comment, which involved the PM telling MPs: “Until you get rid of this system by which trade union barons fund other parties we need to continue with this system by which public-spirited people give donations.”
O’Hara went on:
O’Hara said the government should either launch an investigation itself, or refer the matter to the Metropolitan police.
But Nigel Adams, a Cabinet Office minister, said there was no need for an investigation. In a comment that provoked laughter from the opposition, he said:
The Met has already ruled out an investigation into this, saying there was “insufficient information” to justify one.
Yesterday we reported on growing frustration in the Treasury at Boris Johnson’s botched handling of important government announcements.
Rishi Sunak’s allies could have chosen to deny the rift, but instead a briefing to the Times has, if anything, gone a bit further. In a story (paywall) on the front page of the Times this morning, Steven Swinford quotes a Sunak “ally” as describing the situation at No 10 as “chaotic”. Swinford writes:
The UK government remains firmly committed to the equality and human rights safeguards within the Northern Ireland protocol, Lord Frost has insisted. As PA Media reports, the Brexit minister made this point in a letter to Amnesty International. PA reports:
London Underground drivers are to launch strike action tomorrow, which will hit the planned resumption of night tube services, PA Media reports.
The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said:
And Nick Dent, director of London Underground customer operations, said:
We have just had the updated list of statements and UQs in the Commons today.
10.30am: Jo Stevens, the shadow culture secretary, asks an urgent question on the Tracey Crouch review of English football.
Around 11am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Commons leader, takes questions on next week’s business.
Around 12pm: Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, makes a Commons statement on the restructuring of the army.
Around 1pm: Priti Patel, the home secretary, makes a statement to MPs on what is described in the official listing as the “small boats incident in the Channel”.
Good morning. The main political focus this morning is the response, in the UK and France, to the death of at least 27 people trying to cross the Channel yesterday on a small boat. But my colleague Damien Gayle is covering all the developments around that story on a separate live blog, and so largely I will be leaving that to him. You can read the blog here.
In other developments, Keir Starmer has instensified his attack on the government’s social care plans. At PMQs yesterday he condemned them as a “working class dementia tax”, but today he has given an interview to the Northern Echo focusing on the idea that they particularly isadvantage people in the north of England. He told the paper:
Labour has also produced this graphic to illustrate how the plans disproportionately help the wealthy.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Stephen Barclay, the Cabinet Office minister, takes questions in the Commons.
9.30am: NHS England publishes figures on GP appointments, and mental health statistics.
9.30am: The Home Office publishes quarterly asylum figures.
9.30am: The ONS publishes long-term migration figures.
After 10.30am: Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the Commons makes a statement on next week’s Commons business.
11.30am: Downing Street holds its lobby briefing.
Afternoon: Peers hold a debate on Channel crossings.
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