Politics news - latest: Sky News obtains seating plan for top Tory dinner; the daunting challenge that lies ahead for Rishi Sunak (2023)

Key points
  • Fresh questions over timeline of complaints against Dominic Raab
  • What you need to know about the controversy|Who is cabinet secretary Simon Case?
  • Modern warfare 'accelerating away' from Ministry of Defence due to tech upgrade delays, say MPs
  • Adam Boulton:Westminster's 'nepo babies' are here to stay - whether we like it or not
  • Mhari Aurora:WhatsApp group used by Truss-supporting MPs whirs back into life
  • Live reporting by Tim Baker


Good morning

Welcome back to the Politics Hub.

Here is what happened yesterday, to get you up to speed:

  • Rishi Sunak marked 100 days as prime minister;
  • Interest rates were raised to 4% by the Bank of England;
  • Downing Street said there were no plans to increase the windfall tax on energy producers after Shell recorded a record £32bn in profits;
  • The government criticised British Steel for proposing hundreds of job cuts while also negotiating with the state for funds;
  • Sky News obtained a seating plan for a dinner of top Conservatives.

Coming up this morning on Sky News:

  • 8.05am: Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock.


Who is cabinet secretary Simon Case?

The youngest cabinet secretary in more than a century, Simon Case was appointed to his role by Boris Johnson.

Here, political correspondent Amanda Akass explains all you need to know about Mr Case, who's been hitting the headlines on a regular basis.


Fresh questions over timeline of complaints against Dominic Raab

(Video) Sky News Breakfast: Family living in 'perpetual hell' over missing Nicola Bulley

There are fresh questions over the timeline of the complaints against Dominic Raab.

Mr Raab is currently being investigated over allegations of bullying, with at least eight complaints being looked at.

Downing Street is maintaining that Rishi Sunak was not aware of any "formal" complaints before appointing Mr Raab as deputy prime minister in October last year.

But, according to The Times, cabinet secretary Simon Case was told of written allegations against Mr Raab last spring, when he was justice secretary under Boris Johnson.

Mr Raab denies the bullying allegations.

Mr Case is still in post, and works closely with Mr Sunak in Downing Street.

Meanwhile, political campaigner Gina Miller has made allegations in The Independent that she was subject to an "abusive attack" by Mr Raab while at a Brexit debate in 2016.

A source close to Mr Raab said this is a "baseless and malicious claim" which was "timed to jump on a political bandwagon and give Gina Miller the publicity she craves".

It comes after Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA union which represents civil servants, told Sky News yesterday: "I've spoken to people who are civil servants working and have worked for Dominic Raab, who have suffered mental health crises, have lost their careers essentially because they’ve had to move and change jobs."

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "The justice secretary's appointment went through the usual process and at the time the prime minister was not aware of any formal complaints.

"You have since seen the action he took in response to the formal complaints to ensure the facts are established following a proper and independent process."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman told The Times: "There is zero tolerance for bullying across the civil service.

"The deputy prime minister leads a professional department, driving forward major reforms, where civil servants are valued and the level of ambition is high.

"There is an independent investigation underway and it would be inappropriate to comment further on issues relating to it until it is completed."


Modern warfare 'accelerating away' from Ministry of Defence due to tech upgrade delays, say MPs

By Jennifer Scott, political reporter

Modern warfare is "accelerating away" from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) due to delays in technology upgrades, MPs have claimed.

A new report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the department had been "struggling for years" to update systems, such as those needed by UK warships and satellites, meaning some projects were in danger "of being obsolescent on delivery".

Chair of the committee, Labour MP Dame Meg Hillier, said the MoD was "frankly not up to the task it faces", and called for a "significant cultural change" to bring the systems up to date and to be prepared for modern battles ahead.

The report comes days after Sky News revealed a senior US general had privately told Defence Secretary Ben Wallace the British Army was no longer regarded as a top-level fighting force.

(Video) In full: Liz Truss resigns and becomes shortest-serving prime minister in British history

Sources told security and defence editor Deborah Haynes that the decline in war-fighting capability - following decades of cuts to save money - needed to be reversed faster than planned in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

Read more below:


Westminster's 'nepo babies' are here to stay - whether we like it or not

By Adam Boulton, Sky News commentator

"It's not who you are but who you know" is a saying often used to explain why those with family connections to successful people seem to have a head start doing well in the next generation.

In the US this phenomenon has led Gen Z to coin a new tag "nepo babies" as they list those in showbusiness deemed to have been given a big helping hand by family connections.

Regardless of the talent they have displayed in their own work, the inference is that they got there in part because of nepotism - those in positions of power and influence favouring their relatives, literally from the Greek Nepos, nephew.

It will always be noted that the actor Kate Hudson and film director Sophia Coppola, say, are the children, respectively, of the actor Goldie Hawn and the film director Francis Ford Coppola.

With emotions ranging from contempt and jealousy to admiration and awe, social media has extended the list of nepo babies to sport and politics.

Read Adam's full piece below:


WhatsApp group used by Truss-supporting MPs whirs back into life

A WhatsApp group once used to support Liz Truss' leadership campaign has begun to see several MPs joining once again, sources have told Sky News.

The former prime minister is said to be on manoeuvres with fellow like-minded MPs ahead of the March budget to lobby the government for tax cuts, and the revival of this WhatsApp group demonstrates there is still an appetite for deregulation and a smaller state among some MPs.

The Conservative Growth Group - a group of Tory MPs who still believe in Ms Truss's vision for the UK - appears determined to turn up the pressure on the prime minister - with sources familiar with the WhatsApp group telling Sky News: "There's a lot going on behind the scenes."

However, a member of Ms Truss's team has denied any knowledge of movement within WhatsApp groups linked to her previous campaign.

(Video) Reaction as Boris Johnson resigns as prime minister

As the backbench 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs celebrated its 100 year birthday on Tuesday, some Conservative backbenchers raised their concerns regarding the high tax burden with the chancellor.

Speaking to Sky News after the meeting, Sir Edward Leigh said he had suggested to Jeremy Hunt that he make reducing taxes a top priority.

"I said 'you can't wait until the general election. People are depressed. You've got to give them hope.

"You've got to say: 'We made the right decisions in September, therefore that's given me room in this budget to cut taxes, whether it's corporation, personal or fuel".

Next month the chancellor will outline his plan for growth and prosperity, having already warned that now is not the time for tax cuts while inflation is still the Treasury's priority.

But while economic growth remains minimal and is projected to go into decline, this faction of the Conservative Party is likely to get louder as the budget looms.

The next general election is at the forefront of the Conservative Growth Group's mission, but with a deepening cost of living crisis, public sector budgets squeezed and a modest number of supporters, it appears unlikely for now they will have their demands met.


Former chancellor's 'fetish' warning for government as it works out kinks of regulatory divergence from EU

Lord Lamont has deployed some rather colourful language in the upper chamber as he issued a Brexit warning to Rishi Sunak.

The long-standing eurosceptic, who was chancellor from 1990 to 1993, told fellow peers that while it was important for Britain to have the power to diverge, this should not just happen for the sake of it.

Lord Lamont said divergence can be important for new technology and he criticised fellow members of the European Affairs Committee for "clinging to the idea" of sticking to the EU's rules.

He told the Lords: "One of the subjects on which there was a lot of debate in our committee was that of divergence - to what extent regulation should be allowed to diverge from the previous model in the European Union?

"Some members, I think, of the committee were particularly apprehensive about that and clinging to the idea that we should remain aligned in regulation.

"My view is that we certainly shouldn't make a fetish of divergence - we should not diverge for the sake of divergence.

"But I think it is important to have the power - the parliamentary power - and the freedom to diverge, but these decisions should be driven by industry and commerce.

"And I think divergence is very important for new technology."

Lord Lamont made the remarks during a debate in the upper chamber on post-Brexit trade with the EU.

Responding for the government, foreign minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon told peers: "Notwithstanding our departure from the European Union, our relationship remains strong.

"Nowhere has it been demonstrated at its finest than through our unity of response to Russia's illegal war in Ukraine and that continues to be the case."

He added: "The government has processes in place to monitor the economic and business impacts of regulatory divergence between the UK and EU and whether this divergence is EU or UK led."

(Video) In full: Chancellor unveils his autumn statement


Sunak's survived in Number 10 twice as long as his predecessor - but it's not been a smooth ride

Rishi Sunak may have already outlasted Liz Truss by quite a margin, but the 100 days he's been in office have not been short of scandals.

Our political correspondent Amanda Akasslooks back at the rockier moments of PM's tenure so far:


What you need to know about the Dominic Raab bullying allegations

After days of headlines about the tax affairs of the now former Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi, Rishi Sunak is facing fresh questions about another member of his top team.

Dominic Raab, the deputy PM and justice secretary, is facing a total of eight formal complaints about his conduct across a number of government departments.

Mr Raab has denied wrongdoing, while a number of Conservative colleagues have described him as an "excellent and considerate boss".

One report has suggested the true number of formal complaints is far higher - and Mr Sunak is facing tough questions about whether he knew about the bullying allegations against his deputy before appointing him.

As the controversy continues to rumble on, this is what you need to know about the investigation into Mr Raab:


Further strike date by Royal Mail workers announced

Royal Mail workers will stage another strike on 16 February, the Communication Workers Union has announced.

It is part of a long-running row over pay and conditions.

(Video) GB News Live | Wednesday 18th January


1. In full: Union leaders answer questions on rail strikes at Transport Select Committee
(Sky News)
2. Dan Wootton Tonight | Tuesday 24th January
3. GB News Live | Thursday 26th January
4. Dan Wootton Tonight | Tuesday 17th January
5. Keir Starmer full interview with Emily Maitlis & Jon Sopel | The News Agents
(The News Agents)
6. Scottish Labour Party Debate: Addressing the Crisis in the NHS and Social Care - 18 January 2023
(The Scottish Parliament)
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