Rishi Sunak under fresh pressure over Gavin Williamson as new allegation emerges – UK politics live | Politics

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Shapps says Home Office was ‘in danger’ of breaking law with conditions at Manston when he replaced Suella Braverman as home secretary

Grant Shappsthe business secretary, has said that the Home Office was “in danger” of breaking the law because of conditions at the Manston processing center for asylum seekers when he was appointed to replace Suella Braverman as home secretary.

Braverman has been strongly criticized for allowing the camp to become overcrowded. She has been accused of ignoring legal advice saying that it would be illegal for migrants to be detained in the camp for more than 24 hours, and of refusing to commission extra hotel accommodation for them. She has denied both these claims. But insiders have claimed that conditions did start to improve when Shapes became home secretary.

In an interview with Sky News, asked why he wanted to move people into hotels, Shapps said:

Simply that we’ve got to be careful not to break the law ourselves by detaining people who are able to be outside of that – well, it’s not a detention centre, but a processing center at Manston.

So, really just a question of making sure that we were acting within the law. That’s something that the home secretary is continuing to do now.

Asked whether that meant the Home Office was breaking the law under the policies pursued by Braverman, Shapps said:

The advice I had was very clear – that we were in danger of doing that if we weren’t acting. I did act during six days in the job.

Shapps was home secretary for less than a week, and he was replaced by Braverman. With media attention now focused on the scandal of overcrowding at Manston, the Home Office has now been reducing numbers at the camp.

Grant Shapps on Sky News.
Grant Shapps on Sky News. Photograph: Sky News

In his Q&A at the Cop27 summit Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, said the world was failing to honor the promises on net zero made at Cop26 at Glasgow. My colleague Bibi van der Zee has full coverage on her Cop27 live blog.

In his interview with the Sun on his flight to Egypt Rishi Sunak restated his opposition to Matt Hancock taking part in I’m a Celebrity. “I was very disappointed,” Sunak told the paper, saying MPs should be working for their constituents.

Sunak was also asked about the rather more consequential topic of what will be in next week’s autumn statement, but the headline on its write-up of his reply – “I’ll be a Santa not a Scrooge for Britain, vows Rishi Sunak” – may turn out to be the least accurate that ever gets written about what will in effect be another colossal budget. It was prompted by Sunak’s evasive reply to a question about whether the budget would make him Santa or Scrooge.

The accurate answer of course, is neither – even Scrooge never imposed because fiscal tightening on a scale envisaged for next week. As my colleague Jessica Elgot reports, the latest steer is that it will include tax rises and spending cuts totaling £60bn, including at least £35bn in cuts.

At one point government sources were indicating that spending cuts would account for 50% of the savings, with tax rises delivering the other 50%, but it now seems that spending cuts will account for a bigger share of the economising than originally planned. However, the new figures would still make Jeremy Hunt, the current chancellor, more of a tax raiser than George Osborne. When Osborne became chancellor in 2010, his austerity program was 80% cuts, and just 20% tax increases.

Rishi Sunak with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates at Cop27 this morning.
Rishi Sunak with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates at Cop27 this morning. Photograph: Reuters

Grant Shapps, the business secretary, was the No 10 voice on the airwaves this morning. In an interview with Sky News, he said Gavin Williamson should not have sent aggressive messages to Wendy Morton. Shapes said:

I don’t think it was the right thing to do, to send messages like that. I see they must have been feeling in a moment of frustration. I think, generally, it is the case that it’s much better to write things which you would not live to regret later.

And especially with colleagues, writing things which are polite, even if you have a point of view to express, I think is not unreasonable. So, I don’t think he was right to send them. The prime minister said the same. I know that the party is going through a process looking at them at the moment.

My colleague Peter Walker has the full story here.

Rishi Sunak arriving in Sharm el-Sheikh last night for the Cop27 summit.
Rishi Sunak arriving in Sharm el-Sheikh last night for the Cop27 summit. Photograph: WPA/Getty Images

Rishi Sunak under fresh pressure over Gavin Williamson as new allegation emerges

Good morning. Rishi Sunak is in Egypt, attending the Cop27 climate summit, in his first overseas visit as prime minister. And, like all prime ministers, he is learning that, although you can take the prime minister out of Westminster, you can never leave it behind, because domestic political hassle continues to clog up your in-tray, even on a day when you want to focus on international issues and hobnobbing with world leaders. One such problem for Sunak is Gavin Williamson.

On Friday and over the weekend it emerged that Sunak had appointed Williamson a Cabinet Office minister, with the right to attend cabinet, even though the Conservative party is considering a complaint about him from Wendy Morton. She says he felt her offensive, threatening messages when she was chief whip, because he was angry about not being invited to attend the Queen’s funeral.

As he flew to Egypt for the summit, Sunak told the Sun in an interview that the messages from Williamson were “not acceptable”. He said:

They were not acceptable or right. It was a difficult time for our party at the time, but regardless, people should always be treated with respect.

I am glad Gavin has expressed regret. There is an independent complaint process which is running, its right and reasonable we let that conclude.

Sunak says he didn’t read Williamson’s messages until yesterday. But he has not denied being aware of them when he appointed Williamson to his government. (No one seems quite sure what Williamson is doing as minister without portfolio at the Cabinet Office, and the appointment looked as if it might have more to do with rewarding an influential supporter than enhancing. the performance of the government.)

Some would argue that, if the messages were unacceptable, having Williamson in government should not be acceptable either. That is not Sunak’s position as of now, but this morning the Times has made it harder for Sunak to keep Williamson by reporting a fresh allegation about Williamson’s conduct from him when he was chief whip. In their story, Steven Swinford and Gabriel Pogrund say a minister (who they have not named) has raised that “Williamson details about her private life during a conversation in an attempt to silence her while she was on the back benches”. Swinford and Pogrund report:

The Tory MP, who told the Conservative party at the weekend that she was willing to discuss the matter, said that Williamson had called her into his office when he was chief whip in 2016.

At the time she was campaigning on an issue that was causing the government difficulty. During the meeting Williamson is said to have raised a sensitive issue about her private life, which she interpreted as a tacit threat.

Allies of Williamson denied that he had been trying to silence the MP and said that he had raised the issue in a “pastoral capacity”.

We are likely to hear more on this as the day goes on.

My colleague Bibi van der Zee will be covering Cop27 on a separate live blog.

I will cover some of the UK line from Cop27 here, but I will largely be focusing on non-Cop issues. Here is the agenda for the day.

8.10am (UK time): Rishi Sunak is due to hold a bilateral meeting with Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, at the Cop27 summit in Egypt. He also has bilaterals scheduled with Giorgia Meloni, the new Italian prime minister, at 9.15am, and with Emmanuel Macron, the French president, at 2pm.

8.45am: Boris Johnson, the former PM, is due to speak at a New York Times event at Cop27.

11.30am: Sunak speaks at a roundtable event at Cop27. He is also due to be taking part in an afternoon event.

morning: Keir Starmer is on a visit this morning linked to Labor’s green prosperity plan.

2pm: Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, speaks at a Cop27 event.

2.30pm: Ben Wallace, the defense secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

4pm: James Bowler, the new permanent secretary at the Treasury, gives evidence to the Commons public accounts committee, about the creation of the UK infrastructure bank.

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