Read about the latest UK political news, views and analysis.

Isabel Hardman

Boris argues that Covid mistakes were inevitable. Is he right?

Boris Johnson had clearly come to the Covid Inquiry intending to be magnanimous about everyone, even advisers like Dominic Cummings who had ended up causing him so much grief – and who had not been at all complimentary about him in their evidence to the inquiry. He largely stuck to that persona in the first of his two lengthy evidence sessions today, with another to come tomorrow. He repeatedly praised Matt Hancock as doing a good job in difficult circumstances and who ‘was a good public communicator’. He even tried to politely explain away the more vicious behaviour of aides within government as variously being just the sort of thing

James Heale

Sunak unveils his ‘emergency legislation’ on Rwanda

Three weeks after the Prime Minister’s ‘emergency legislation’ to make the Rwandan scheme viable, tonight it is finally here. The seven-page Bill was published shortly before Rishi Sunak’s address to the 1922 Committee and James Cleverly’s statement to the House of Commons. The Bill’s solution to the Supreme Court verdict last month is to disapply elements of the Human Rights Act which would have exposed the government to legal challenges, while also declaring in law that Rwanda is a ‘safe country.’ It will let ministers override European Court of Human Rights edicts to block planes from taking off – like the so-called ‘pyjama injunctions’ of June 2022. However, it stops

Boris faces the music at the Covid inquiry

12 min listen

It was a big day in the Covid inquiry as Boris Johnson gave evidence for the first time. Just as Johnson launched into an apology during his opening statement, protestors off-camera made their presence known. There were also revelations concerning the attention he paid to Sage minutes and Cobra meetings and the former prime minister defended his decision not to lock down sooner. What else did we learn? Was this a turning point in the perception of the inquiry?  Oscar Edmondson speaks to James Heale and Michael Simmons. 

Patrick O'Flynn

Suella Braverman’s deadly warning for the PM

While it would be unfair to suggest that Tory MPs only care about holding onto their seats at the next election, equally it would be wrong to say that it isn’t a very important consideration for many. So when Suella Braverman declared in her personal statement in the Commons today that the Conservative party is ‘heading for electoral oblivion’ if it introduces yet more deficient legislation that fails to stop the boats – it probably amounted to her most persuasive point in the eyes of colleagues. Gulps all round. Mrs Braveman said what was at stake was the principle of ‘who governs Britain?’, the British people and their elected representatives

Boris is right about the Covid WhatsApps 

It is hard to feel much in the way of sympathy for Boris Johnson, whose questionable leadership during the pandemic has come under renewed scrutiny during today’s much-anticipated appearance at the  Covid Inquiry. Even so, Johnson made a valid  point – too easily dismissed amidst all the guffawing and glee at the exposure of the derogatory comments in WhatsApp messages. He said that his government was no different from any other when it came to private feuding. Johnson suggested, under questioning from lead counsel Hugo Keith KC, that if WhatsApp messages were available from the Thatcher government showing what its members thought of each other, some of them would have been

Lloyd Evans

Sir Keir’s style is too legal to land a blow on Sunak

The Rwanda treaty has established two new norms in politics. First, the Supreme Court acts as a revising chamber with the power to change government legislation. Secondly, Labour is terrified of Rwanda.  At PMQs, Sir Keir thought he was on a winning ticket and all he had to do was mock the relocation scheme and score an easy victory. He began with a joke: three Tory home secretaries have been sent to Rwanda but not one refugee.  Rishi ignored that and updated the house on Labour’s policy which is to ‘scrap the scheme if and when it is operational,’ he said. He concluded that Sir Keir ‘finds himself on the

James Heale

Badenoch overhauls gender recognition list

Ahead of Suella Braverman’s big statement this afternoon, it was the turn of another Brexiteer to face the Commons. Kemi Badenoch appeared before the House in her capacity as Minister for Women and Equalities, to update MPs on people who have changed gender under different regimes abroad. Under plans announced today, foreign citizens will be forced to comply with tougher British rules if they move to the UK. This includes providing medical reports to get a gender recognition certificate. The change, in Badenoch’s words, was ‘long overdue’ with the list last updated in 2011. Over the past dozen years, much of the Western world has significantly altered their systems for

Full text: Suella Braverman’s departure speech

This afternoon, former Home Secretary Suella Braverman gave her departure speech in the House of Commons after she was sacked by Rishi Sunak last month. Here is her speech in full: It is no secret that I support leaving the ECHR and replacing the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights Madame Deputy Speaker, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to make this statement and I’d like to put on record my wishes to Mr Speaker that he makes a speedy recovery. Madame Deputy Speaker, serving in cabinet for just under four years has been a true honour and I’m thankful for the opportunity and grateful to the

Isabel Hardman

Starmer skewers Sunak on Rwanda at PMQs

It was another clear win for Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions today. The Labour leader decided to take a mocking tilt at the latest iteration of the Rwanda policy. He asked Rishi Sunak how successful it had been: ‘If the purpose of the Rwanda gimmick was to solve a political headache of the Tories’ own making, to get people out of the country who they simply couldn’t deal with, then it’s been a resounding success. After all, they’ve managed to send three Home Secretaries so the whole country can be grateful. Apart from members of his own cabinet, how many people has the Prime Minister sent to Rwanda?’ The


Key moments: Boris faces the music at the Covid inquiry

Today’s the day. The start of one of the most highly anticipated evidence sessions at the Covid Inquiry sees former Prime Minister Boris Johnson take the hot seat. Here are the key points from his evidence so far: Baroness Hallett reprimands those leaking Covid evidence Baroness Hallett told Johnson that his statement is supposed to remain ‘confidential’, wrapping metaphorical knuckles as she continued: ‘Failing to respect confidentiality undermines the inquiry’s ability to do its job fairly, effectively and independently’. But before today’s hearing could go much further, there was another halt to the proceedings. Just as Johnson launched into his apology, protestors off camera had made their presence known. After

Has Sunak done enough to fix the Rwanda plan?

When the Supreme Court found against the government on the Home Office’s Rwanda policy in November, the plan appeared to be dead in the water. The court made clear that there were substantial grounds to think that asylum claims would not be properly determined by the Rwandan authorities. As a result, it concluded that asylum seekers might be returned to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened, or where they would be subject to a risk of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment – contrary to a number of international conventions. The judgment gave the Prime Minister an ‘out’ from a controversial and costly policy, which was

Is this the fall of Nicolas Maduro? 

Venezuela’s dictator Nicholas Maduro has been embarrassed. In a transparent bid to rally political support, he asked voters to demand that their government annex two-thirds of Guyana through a hastily called plebiscite. Venezuelans did overwhelmingly support the plainly one-sided poll, but turnout was small and noticeably lacking in enthusiasm. It was not the result the regime expected or craved as it attempted to divert attention from political and economic woes in the face of a newly competitive presidential campaign. In its decade in power, the Maduro regime has presided over economic collapse, including the largest humanitarian crisis in the modern history of Latin America. More than seven million people have fled


Omid Scobie’s royal tell-all flops

For a couple supposedly desperate for privacy, Meghan and Harry have an interesting definition of what it means to escape the spotlight. This time, however, they don’t have themselves entirely to thank. Journalist and royal-obsessive Omid Scobie has reopened the wounds of the regal family scandal after releasing his new biography Endgame, risking the wrath of the royals. While Scobie insists the couple were not involved in the book, it’s not gone unnoticed that neither Meghan nor Harry have condemned any of the stories in it criticising their family members.  The book has attracted plenty of publicity but it’s not gone quite as well for Scobie as he might have

Did Maori MPs mean to insult King Charles?

The co-leaders of New Zealand’s Māori party, Te Pāti Māori, have defended their actions at the swearing-in ceremony at parliament in Wellington on Tuesday. The party’s MPs all broke with protocol by standing and giving a whaikorero (formal address) when it was their turn to be sworn in. In their remarks, members of the party swore allegiance to the mokopuna (grandchildren) and said they would exercise their duties in accordance with Te Tiriti o Waitangi (New Zealand’s founding document, the treaty of Waitangi). They each then approached the Clerk of the House to give their affirmations of allegiance to King Charles, a prerequisite to formally becoming an MP.   Much of this tension

The war in Gaza is at a tipping point

The conflict in Gaza could be about to reach a defining moment. After weeks of air strikes, artillery bombardments and drone attacks, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) appear to have the Hamas leadership and those remaining fighters still loyal to the group’s murderous ideals trapped in ever-shrinking pockets of land. Intense street fighting is now taking place between Israeli troops and Hamas gunmen in the southern city of Khan Yunis, believed to be the last stronghold of the terrorist group. In the north, Hamas’s general headquarters, located within the Jabaliya refugee camp, has been occupied after a three day operation involving a naval commando unit and elements of the Israeli army’s

A review of Britain’s airport slots is long overdue

When passing through an airport, the average traveller is unlikely to give much thought to the invisible economic forces that run the place. But the way take-off and landing slots are allocated at an airport affects a range of things, not least ticket prices and the range of destinations you can reach. This week, the government has launched a consultation on overhauling the system under which these slots at Britain’s busiest airports are allocated. It’s about time. In recent years, the airline industry has modernised dramatically. In its infancy, air travel was a heavily state-directed industry. Then, from the mid-1980s onwards, Britain became a pioneer in opening up the sector to market forces, an approach which was then adopted EU-wide in the early

Matthew Lynn

There’s a reason the market is rejecting electric cars

They are cheap to run. They rarely break down. And perhaps most of all they are far better for the environment. For the last decade we have been endlessly lectured about how electric cars are so completely superior to the petrol variety that they would quickly dominate the market. But hold on. Now that some of the subsidies and mandates are being removed sales are collapsing. Left to themselves, it turns out that most drivers don’t don’t want them. According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders released yesterday, sales of EVs slumped by 17 per cent in November, the largest ever monthly fall. After taking a


Penny Mordaunt takes a dig at the Old Etonians

It’s Christmas party season in Westminster and tonight it was the turn of the Adam Smith Institute to do the honours. The free market think tank turned to Penny Mordaunt for her now-traditional turn on the seasonal circuit. Steerpike’s sources tell him that the Leader of the House writes most of the gags that she deploys at Business Questions. And tonight was no exception as she expounded the merits of the festive goods available in parliament: We are well into the first advent week but it is not too late, folks, to get an advent calendar if you’ve not got one already. And I’m just going to give you a

Ross Clark

Why are fewer people buying electric cars?

The rebellion of 26 Conservative MPs against the government’s zero electric vehicle (ZEV) mandate couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Prime Minister. The ZEV will compel manufacturers to ensure that, from 1 January,  at least 22 per cent of their car sales are pure electric. Yet simultaneously comes news of a collapse in sales of electric cars.   There is little other interpretation to put on the figures for new car sales in November put out by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) today. Electric cars have had an appalling month, with sales down 17.1 per cent on November last year. This, in a month when

Katy Balls

Are the Tories too little to late on migration?

14 min listen

As James Cleverly meets leaders in Rwanda to sign a new asylum treaty, the government has laid out a series of plans to bring down legal migration. Some Tories on the right would like the measures to go further, but are these policies too little too late? James Heale speaks to Katy Balls and Spectator writer, Patrick O’Flynn. 


Remainers proven wrong about Brexit security risks

Another day, another Remoaner myth destroyed. Today’s report on International Partnerships by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee finds that ‘Brexit has not had a negative impact on intelligence co-operation between the UK and EU member states’. How very curious – not least because of the incessant warnings spouted by Brexit pessimists of the very opposite happening. So much for all that fear-mongering, eh? The conclusion follows examples of rather commendatory reports from MI5. The organisation assured the committee that ‘European partners have been very keen to continue working with MI5’ and its director general added: ‘I don’t think [Brexit] has led to a material diminution in the UK’s standing [in