Senior MPs grill Jeremy Hunt on autumn statement and UK economy – live | Politics

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Q: What provision have you made for public sector pay in your settlements with departments?

Hunt says those discussions are still ongoing.

Q: Will you meet unions to discuss pay?

Hunt says he strongly believes in engaging with unions. But it is for the relevant secretaries of state to do that, he says.

Q: Will you meet with the TUC?

Hunt says he is happy to meet with the head of the TUC

Siobhain McDonagh (Lab) asks how much raising taxes for non-doms would raise.

Hunt says he has asked officials about that. He says Labour put the figure at £3.6bn.

It is not just Labour, says McDonagh. She quotes other figures, suggesting £3bn, or £3.2bn might be raised.

Hunt says his concern is how much might be lost if non-doms were not in the UK. He says they contribute £8bn in tax.

Q: Do you support a growth target?

Hunt says he does not favour a precise target. But he agrees it is important to increase the growth rate.

Q: Do you want to get taxes down in the long term?

Absolutely, says Hunt.

But he says, given that he was raising taxes by £25bn, it was not the time to say that.

Ultimately, though, he wants to get taxes down.

He says it is particularly important to reduce the taxes that people have to pay before they make any profit.

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Back at the Treasury committee Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, says the UK needs a long-term growth rate closer to 3% than 2%.

That will require strucural changes, like investment in skills, he says.

That is why Michael Barber is doing a skills review.

Having a stable source of cheap energy is also important, he says. That is why Sizewell C is going ahead.

And he says there is a long-term plan for the UK to become “the world’s next Silicon Valley”.

German government dismisses Boris Johnson’s claim it wanted Ukraine to ‘fold’ as ‘nonsense’

Boris Johnson’s claim that Germany wanted Ukraine to quickly “fold” after Russia’s invasion has been dismissed as “utter nonsense” by Berlin, PA Media reports. PA says:

The former prime minister, who was in office when Vladimir Putin’s troops invaded in February, said Germany wanted Ukraine to quickly lose, rather than have a lengthy war, for “all sorts of sound economic reasons”.

But German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit on Wednesday sharply refuted his comment.

“We know that the very entertaining former prime minister always has a unique relationship with the truth; this case is no exception,” he said, according to German media.

Berlin swiftly decided to send arms to Ukraine after Moscow launched its invasion, chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman said, noting the “facts speak against [Johnson’s] claims”.

Switching to English, Hebestreit added: “This is utter nonsense.”

Germany’s ambassador to the UK tweeted the official’s rejection of Mr Johnson’s claim, which will not have helped UK-German relations.

Johnson earlier told US broadcaster CNN: “The Germans, for all sorts of sound economic reasons, really didn’t want it to … I’ll tell you a terrible thing – the German view was at one stage that if it were going to happen, which would be a disaster, then it would be better for the whole thing to be over quickly and for Ukraine to fold.

“I couldn’t support that. I thought that was a disastrous way of looking at it, but I could understand why they thought and felt as they did.”

The ex-PM also said France was in denial “right up until the last moment” when Russian forces crossed the border.

“This thing was a huge shock. We could see the Russian battalion tactical groups amassing but different countries had very different perspectives,” he said.

“Be in no doubt that the French were in denial right up until the last moment.”

This is from Miguel Berger, the German ambassador to the UK.

“We know that the very entertaining former Prime Minister always has a unique relationship with the truth. This case is also no exception.”

🇩🇪 Government spokesperson @RegSprecher rejects @BorisJohnson’s claims about Germany’s position regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine.

— Miguel Berger (@GermanAmbUK) November 23, 2022

Back at the Treasury committee, and Jeremy Hunt says he has broadly protected capital spending in cash terms. But it is not going up by as much as was planned.

Partygate hearings could be put back to new year after No 10 delay

The privileges committee inquiry into whether Boris Johnson misled the Commons may be delayed until January, after No 10 finally handed over a cache of evidence relating to Partygate four months after it was requested, my colleagues Rowena Mason and Aubrey Allegretti report.

Q: What was your thinking regarding delaying the introduction of the cap on adult social care costs?

Hunt says he supports the Dilnot reforms.

But he looked at the pressures on the NHS caused by the pandemic. There are 7 million people on waiting lists. And those waiting lists cannot be reduced if delayed discharges are still a problem.

So the government decided to prioritise reducing delayed discharges, he says.

He says there is an “extreme situation’” facing the NHS and the care system. That is why he thought it was right to address this in the autumn statement.

Hunt denies giving briefing that would have justified Sunday Times saying government wanted Swiss-style Brexit deal

Jeremy Hunt is giving evidence to the Treasury committee now.

He starts by talking about the Sunday Times story suggesting the government wants a Swiss-style Brexit deal.

He says he does not want to move away from the TCA, the Brexit trade and cooperation agreement. He says that has been his position as chancellor.

But he does think technology could allow checks to be carried out more easily.

Q: But did anything you say lead to the Sunday Times story?

Hunt stresses his support for the TCA.

Q: But you can’t rule out setting the hares running that led to that story?

Hunt repeats his point about not saying anything that would justify a claim that the government wanted to renegotiate the trade agreement.

He does not deny speaking to the Sunday Times before the story ran.

Jeremy Hunt to face questions on autumn statement from Commons Treasury committee

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, is to give evidence to the Commons Treasury committee at 3pm on the autumn statement. A chancellor normally gives evidence after a budget, or a budget-type event, and this is likely to be a wide-ranging (and, hopefully, revealing) encounter.

It is also the first big outing for Harriett Baldwin, the new chair of the committee.

The committee wanted to hear from Kwasi Kwarteng after his mini-budget, but he declined to attend. In his short time as chancellor he didn’t get to speak to the committee at all.

Braverman ‘doesn’t understand asylum policy’, says Cooper after home secretary struggles with question at committee

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, was giving evidence to the Commons home affairs committee this morning and she was skewered by a fellow Tory, Tim Loughton, on asylum policy.

Braverman has said she wants to ban people who enter the UK illegally by crossing the Channel in small boats from claiming asylum. The government has already increased the penalties for people entering the UK illegally in the Nationality and Borders Act.

Asked how people should claim asylum in the UK, ministers routinely say they should use the safe routes that are available. Braverman used the same line at the committee this morning.

But Loughton asked Braverman to explain what safe routes would be available to a teenager from Africa fleeing civil war and religious persecution. Braverman was unable to answer. Eventually she passed the question to Matthew Rycroft, the permanent secretary at the Home Office, who said that perhaps the UNHCR might be able to help. But he went on: “But I accept that there are some countries where it would not be possible.”

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said the exchange showed that Braverman “doesn’t understand her own asylum policy”.

Watch this. Clear Suella Braverman doesn’t understand her own asylum policy

Since Govt failed to get replacement for Dublin Agreemnt theres no safe legal route for lone child refugee to rejoin relative in UK. She’s effectively saying they need to make dangerous journey. Shameful

— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) November 23, 2022

Sunak appoints lawyer to examine Raab bullying allegations

Rishi Sunak has appointed a top employment barrister to investigate formal complaints into his deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, who has been accused by multiple civil servants of bullying behaviour across several government departments, my colleagues Pippa Crerar and Henry Dyer report.

Ben Quinn

Ben Quinn

Calls for Scotland’s pro-independence movement to put aside differences and unite after judges said Holyrood could not hold a second independence referendum were made outside the supreme court by an MP from a party that has become home to former Scottish National party (SNP) members.

Neale Hanvey, formerly a member of the SNP but now an MP for the Alba party, said the ruling was a defeat in one respect but was also a helpful clarifying point to demonstrate that “all avenues within the union had now been exhausted”. He said:

Now we must unite as a movement. So we need to stop the charade or one more mandate, let’s vote for us again for another mandate for the SNP, because the reality is, there are people in the Conservative party who support independence, there are people in the Lib Dems who support independence, there are many members in the Labour party who support independence, and of course there is the Alba party.

The reality is that many of them won’t vote for Nicola Sturgeon’s party because of some of the very controversial policies she has brought forward.

Hanvey said it was important to “decouple” the question of an independence plebiscite from the SNP.

Alba was formed in March 2021 by the former Scottish first minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond, and has attracted a number of MPs from Scotland’s governing party amid fissures in the independence movement around referendum strategy, centralisation, reform of transgender rights and the question of Salmond’s role in politics itself.

How a referendum now happens was “challenging”, Hanvey admitted. He said a “wildcard” poll risked running into the same problems as faced by the Catalan independence movement, while a plebiscite fought on party lines would divide the pro-independence vote. He went on:

What we need is a constitutional convention where we put our differences to one side and prioritise Scotland. We have to find a way to come back together as we did in 2014 and settle on a strategy that is solely focused on delivering independence. If that is ignored then we could take the case to the international community.

Neale Hanvey
Neale Hanvey Photograph: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament/Reuters

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