Home » Rishi Sunak is grilled by UK public as pressure mounts

Rishi Sunak is grilled by UK public as pressure mounts

Keir Starmer calls on Israel to abide by international law

Rishi Sunak is set to be grilled by the UK public as pressure continues to mount on the prime minister in one of the most challenging weeks of his premiership.

Mr Sunak is facing questions from undecided and swing voters in County Durham during the People’s Forum event, which kicks off at 8pm on GB News.

It comes amid a week when the PM is enduring two tricky by-elections, opposition to his Rwanda plan, and the release of official figures revealing whether the country has slipped into a recession.

Meanwhile, Labour is facing mounting pressure for their continued support of Rochdale’s by-election candidate after he claimed Israel deliberately relaxed security to allow Hamas to carry out their 7 October attack, to provide grounds to invade Gaza.

Azhar Ali has apologised for his “deeply offensive” remarks – yet it has prompted questions about Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s claim the party has changed since the antisemitism crisis that engulfed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

In a recording obtained by the Mail on Sunday, Mr Ali was heard telling a meeting: “They deliberately took the security off, they allowed … that massacre that gives them the green light to do whatever they bloody want.”

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Senior Tories to lose seats as rural Conservative vote collapses

Labour will beat the Tories in the most 100 rural constituencies in England, according to a shock new poll.

The poll found Conservative support had fallen by 25 points since the 2019 election, with just 34 per cent of voters in the 100 most rural constituencies in England saying they would vote for the party.

The Conservatives currently hold 96 of the 100 most rural seats, but now face losing more than half to Labour and the Lib Dems, including those of senior Tories Jacob Rees-Mogg, Jeremy Hunt, Thérèse Coffey, Andrea Leadsom, Mel Stride, Mark Harper and Liam Fox.

Zoe Grunewald and Christopher McKeon report:

Tara Cobham12 February 2024 20:04

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Rishi Sunak set to be grilled by UK public as pressure mounts

Rishi Sunak is set to be grilled by the UK public as pressure continues to mount on the prime minister in one of the most challenging weeks of his premiership.

Mr Sunak is facing questions from undecided and swing voters in County Durham during the People’s Forum event, which kicks off at 8pm on GB News.

It comes amid a week when the PM is enduring two tricky by-elections, opposition to his Rwanda plan, and the release of official figures revealing whether the country has slipped into a recession.

Tara Cobham12 February 2024 20:02

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Labour withdraws support for Rochdale candidate after antisemitism row

Mr Ali had apologised after he was recorded suggesting in a meeting of the Lancashire Labour Party that Israel had taken the October 7 Hamas assault as a pretext to invade Gaza.

A party spokesperson said: “Following new information about further comments made by Azhar Ali coming to light today, the Labour Party has withdrawn its support for Azhar Ali as our candidate in the Rochdale by-election.

Alexander Butler reports:

Tara Cobham12 February 2024 20:01

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Tory frontbencher concedes some safeguards agreed in Rwanda treaty are not yet in place

Conservative frontbencher Lord Stewart of Dirleton conceded some safeguards agreed in a treaty with Rwanda are not yet in place.

He told peers: “It’s a matter of working towards having these safeguards in place, and we have received assurances from the Government of Rwanda that the implementation of all measures in the treaty will be expedited.”

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Purvis of Tweed said: “If the Rwandan government is working towards putting safeguards in place, that means that they are not currently in place. Is that correct?”

Lord Stewart said: “Well, it must do.”

Tara Cobham12 February 2024 19:45

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Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda bill comes under fire from Tory and Labour peers

Political correspondent Archie Mitchell reports:

Tara Cobham12 February 2024 19:30

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‘Rwanda cares deeply about supporting refugees,’ argues Home Office minister

Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom told peers: “Rwanda is a country that cares deeply about supporting refugees.

“It works already with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and hosts more than 135,000 refugees and asylum seekers, and it stands ready to relocate people and help them rebuild their lives.”

He said earlier in his remarks: “We consider that the terms of the treaty, which had been carefully agreed with the Government of Rwanda and will be binding in international law, to be sufficient to ensure that those relocated under the partnership will be offered safety and protection with no risk of refoulement.

“The Government has conducted its own assessment as to the safety of Rwanda… This evidence draws on a wide range of sources, in addition to the institutional expertise of the Home Office, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, as experts on the bilateral relationship between the UK and Rwanda.”

He added: “The Home Office has reviewed a wide range of sources, including evidence from the UNHCR via an established process for assessing countries safety, this is therefore the most appropriate assessment on which to rely.

“It would not be right for our ability to deliver this policy, which is key to our commitment to stop the boats, to be left solely dependent on a further independent assessment by an external body like UNHCR.”

Tara Cobham12 February 2024 19:15

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Silence is golden for Labour on ‘conspiracy theory’ Rochdale candidate

Labour’s Rochdale by-election candidate was not around for interviews on Monday – with no sign of activity at the campaign HQ in the town.

And MPs and senior Labour figures who last week backed Azhar Ali, have also not been available for comment – though the party is standing by their candidate.

Mr Ali, Labour’s candidate following the death last month of sitting MP Sir Tony Lloyd, has apologised after a recording emerged of him in a meeting of the Lancashire Labour Party appearing to suggest that Israel deliberately lowered its guard to use the Hamas terror attacks as a pretext to invade Gaza.

Tara Cobham12 February 2024 19:00

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‘Unbelievable’ government has to be reminded to comply with international law, hears parliament

Parliament has heard it is “unbelievable” the Government has to be reminded of the need to comply with international law.

Labour frontbencher Lord Coaker said: “Whatever our view on the various amendments we are totally and fundamentally opposed to the whole Bill.”

He added: “Any Bill, any law that we pass of course should be compliant with international law.”

He went on: “I am astonished, astounded, I find it unbelievable that His Majesty’s Government has to be reminded of the fact that we want our Government to comply with international law.

“I would have thought that would have been a statement of the obvious.”

Responding, Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom said: “The overriding purpose of this Bill is to ensure that Parliament’s sovereign view that Rwanda is a safe country is accepted and interpreted by the courts to prevent legal challenge, which seek to delay removals and prevent us from taking control of our borders.”

Tara Cobham12 February 2024 18:45

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Legislating Rwanda is safe ‘doesn’t make it so’, says Lord Alton

Human rights campaigner Lord Alton of Liverpool said legislating that Rwanda is safe “doesn’t make it so”.

He said: “Just saying that an apple is a pear doesn’t make it such. Saying a dog is a cat doesn’t make it such. It may be your opinion but it isn’t true.”

Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb said: “I am arguing that this is an absurd Bill. It is nasty, it is inhumane and I don’t want any part of it.”

President of MigrationWatch UK, Lord Green of Deddington, said: “The reality is that the Government has lost control of our borders.”

The independent crossbencher and former ambassador added: “And there is deep public anger I regret to say but there is. It seems to me, therefore, it’s for the Government to take action to bring all this under control and for us to give some advice as to how that could best be done.”

But former ambassador and crossbench peer Lord Kerr of Kinlochard said: “In think we are dealing with a Bill which it is very hard to make acceptable.”

Human rights campaigner Lord Alton of Liverpool said legislating that Rwanda is safe ‘doesn’t make it so’

(PA Archive)

Tara Cobham12 February 2024 18:30

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Former Bank of England chief economist tells Hunt: ‘Invest more, don’t cut taxes’

The former chief economist at the Bank of England has said Jeremy Hunt should invest more, rather than cutting taxes in next month’s Budget.

Andy Haldane said boosting spending is “what the UK needs right now” rather than tax cuts for households.

He told Sky News: “Tax cuts tend to support… spending by households rather than investment and what the UK needs right now is investment.

“So if it were me spending my pound, it would be not on tax cuts, but rather on investment of various types, whether investment in technology or innovation or investment in people, in their training. We are falling short on both fronts.”

Archie Mitchell 12 February 2024 18:15