June 22, 2022

Politics latest news: We cannot allow militant unions to win on pay rises, says Dominic Raab in inflation warning

Britons should give back cash from next year’s pension rise if they do not believe they need it, Therese Coffey has suggested.

The Treasury confirmed on Tuesday the pension “triple lock” will be reinstated after it was paused during the pandemic, taking retirees’ annual payout beyond £10,000 for the first time as the state pension and benefits rise in line with inflation.

Lord Clarke, the former Chancellor, told the BBC World at One the Government should “protect the poor [and] stop giving me money to pay my power bills”.

But Ms Coffey, the Work and Pensions Secretary, said in comments given to the same programme: “Of course there’ll be some people like Lord Clarke who’ve got substantial amounts of money, I’m conscious of that.

“But nevertheless, in order to deliver this payment effectively, it is a comprehensive payment, and frankly I’ll ask Ken Clarke to send a cheque back to HMRC if he feels that strongly against it. This is about helping people in a really challenging situation right now.”

And asked if others should give the money back, she added: “I am always encouraging people who seem to think that they don’t need money given from the Government to (return it).  There’s a very straightforward way they can return that, and of course other people often give it to other charitable donations as well.”

​Follow the latest updates below.

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A big day ahead for Boris

There is a lot at stake tomorrow for Boris Johnson and the Conservatives tomorrow as the party looks to hold on to a ‘Red Wall’ gain and a traditional heartlands seat in two by-elections.

Since the seat of Tiverton and Honiton was created in 1997, it has always been held by the Tories by a significant margin.

But this week’s vote takes place amid fears Sir Ed Davey’s Liberal Democrats are parking their tanks on the lawn of Mr Johnson’s party as they seek a third by-election scalp in the space of a year.

Boris Johnson joined Helen Turton, the Tory candidate for Wakefield, on the campaign trail earlier this month

Andrew Parsons/CCHQ / Parsons Media

The Conservatives will also be anxious to hold on to Wakefield – one of many ‘Red Wall’ gains they made in traditional Labour territory at the last general election.

Equally, Labour will need to show they can start winning back the loyalty of scores of northern and working-class Britons who abandoned the party in 2019.

Mick Lynch: Grant Shapps has wrecked these negotiations

These comments just in from Mick Lynch, the general secretary of the RMT:

Grant Shapps has wrecked these negotiations by not allowing Network Rail to withdraw their letter threatening redundancy for 2,900 of our members.

Until the Government unshackle Network Rail and the train operating companies, it is not going to be possible for a negotiated settlement to be agreed.

We will continue with our industrial campaign until we get a negotiated settlement that delivers job security and a pay rise for our members that deals with the escalating cost-of-living crisis.

It comes after more failed talks today between the union, rail operators and Network Rail in a bid to break the current stalemate.

RMT members across 13 train operators and at Network Rail will now walk out tomorrow – which the second of three planned strike days – with Britain’s railways once again expected to be crippled.

Alistair Darling: Nicola Sturgeon knows she would lose a second referendum 

Nicola Sturgeon does not really want to hold a second Scottish independence referendum because she knows she would lose, Alistair Darling has said ahead of her unveiling her route map to separation next week.

The former chancellor, who led the victorious pro-Union Better Together campaign in the 2014 referendum, said the prospect of a hard border between England and a separate Scotland in the EU was a “disaster” for the nationalists’ case.

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to press ahead with plans for another separation vote

Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Now Lord Darling of Roulanish, he agreed Ms Sturgeon’s call for another separation vote was “the politics of distraction” from her government’s domestic record and aimed to keep her “own troops going” in the SNP’s rank-and-file membership.

With polls showing a clear majority of Scots oppose her timetable for a referendum next year, he said Ms Sturgeon wanted to avoid the disastrous fate of helping lead the losing campaigns of two independence referendums.

Read the full story here

Breaking: Tomorrow’s rail strike to go ahead

Tomorrow’s rail strike is to go ahead, the RMT union has confirmed as it accused Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, of “wrecking” negotiations.

More to follow…

Give back pension cash rise if you do not need it, suggests Therese Coffey

Britons should give back next year’s pension rise if they do not believe they need it, the work and pensions secretary has suggested.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One, Therese Coffey said: “Of course there’ll be some people like Lord Clarke who’ve got substantial amounts of money, I’m conscious of that.

“But nevertheless, in order to deliver this payment effectively, it is a comprehensive payment, and frankly I’ll ask Ken Clarke to send a cheque back to HMRC if he feels that strongly against it. This is about helping people in a really challenging situation right now.

Therese Coffey made the comments on Radio 4

Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

On whether others should give the money back, Ms Coffey responded: “I am always encouraging people who seem to think that they don’t need money given from the government to (return it). 

“There’s a very straightforward way they can return that, and of course other people often give it to other charitable donations as well.”

‘Reckless’ for public sector pay to rise with inflation, says No 10

It would be “reckless” to raise public sector pay in line with the current levels of inflation, Downing Street has said.

Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said he was “not going to jump ahead” when asked by reporters this afternoon why pensions surging next year would not increase inflation.

“We will keep explaining to the public why we think this is the right approach, and we are confident that the public will understand that it would long term have a bigger impact on their take-home pay if we were to take actions – reckless actions – now that could spike inflation.

“It’s important to stress that does not mean we do not want to reward public sector workers with a pay rise, we do, it’s just we must make sure that we don’t do anything that has a knock-on impact which feeds into this global inflationary spiral that there is the potential to see.”

Why inflation will only get worse 

UK consumer prices rose by 9.1 per cent in the year to May = a fresh 40-year high – amid soaring costs for energy, transport and food.

Inflation is expected to pick up further as the year goes on, hitting double digits in the autumn amid an increase in the energy price cap.

Some price categories are easing, but there are signs that companies are still soaking up inflationary pressures into their margins.

These charts show the dangers ahead

Jacob Rees-Mogg: ‘Dead hand’ of Protocol must be cast aside

The “dead hand” of the European Union will be cast aside by Liz Truss’s Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said.

Sammy Wilson, the DUP Chief Whip, said the regulatory freedoms being sought “cannot apply to many aspects of law in Northern Ireland” while it remains under “smothering” legislation.

In response, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “It is fundamental that the benefits of leaving the European Union are for the whole of the United Kingdom, and I am pleased with the Bill that has been introduced by my Right Honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, which I hope will go towards ameliorating the problems which have arisen.

“Our single united country cannot be ruled by the dead hand of the Brussels bureaucracy. We voted to leave as a single nation.”

Don’t be ‘Putin’s friend’, Tobias Ellwood warns rail strikers 

Tobias Ellwood has claimed rail union workers striking this week are “Putin’s friends”.

The senior Tory MP said the disruption caused by this week’s industrial action, the biggest on Britain’s rail network for 30 years, is distracting the government from the war in Ukraine, a fact the Russian president will be “enjoying”.

“We face huge economic headwinds, yet here we are causing such huge self-harm as the country is brought to a halt,” Mr Ellwood told Sky News.

I think Russia must be enjoying this self-inflicted distraction, pleased to see that the one government in Europe that is actually standing up to Putin is completely distracted in this way.

I do hope the unions now call off future planned strikes … this isn’t just disrupting commuters, including key workers, but students as well and indeed the hospitality sector.

Read the full story here

Rishi has acted on tax – but I’ll pass on VAT plea, vows Rees-Mogg

A senior Conservative backbencher has urged Jacob Rees-Mogg to make the most of Britain’s Brexit freedoms by cutting VAT.

Sir John Redwood made the appeal in the Commons in response to the minister for Brexit opportunities making his statement on retained EU law.

“It is one of our freedoms and the Chancellor did in his Spring Statement announce some amelioration of VAT,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.

“I will ensure my Right Honourable friend’s suggestion is passed on to the Chancellor.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg: Remainers do not realise where blame lies

Dominic Penna here, taking you through the rest of today’s political news and developments.

Remainers do not realise “where the blame lies” for red tape and bureaucracy, Jacob Rees-Mogg has said. The comments came after Hillary Benn, the MP for Leeds Central who was a prominent advocate of a second Brexit referendum, asked Mr Rees-Mogg what he would do about the “barrel load of red tape cost and bureaucracy that has fallen on British businesses since the beginning of 2021”.

Jacob Rees-Mogg pictured out and about on the campaign trail in Wakefield last week


But, calling Mr Benn ‘the high priest of Remain’, Mr Rees-Mogg told him he would have to “wait and see” what new legislation would do to address red tape.

“The EU runs a fundamentally anti-competitive closed market which was affecting us, it was making goods and services in this country more expensive because we could not trade freely with the world… That’s what we’re getting out of, that’s the economic opportunity.

“It’s to be free from all of that, that strangles slowly the European economy, to have an economy that can grow globally.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg announces EU laws dashboard

The Government will publish a quarterly update on all of the EU laws it has reformed, Jacob Rees-Mogg announced this afternoon. 

The Brexit opportunities minister told the House of Commons that the Government wants to “transform the UK into the most sensibly regulated economy in the world” and part of those efforts will include reforming the “EU law we have retained on our statute book”.

Mr Rees-Mogg said there will be an interactive online dashboard which will enable people to keep track of any law changes. 

He said: “I am pleased to announce that today we publish an authoritative catalogue of over 2,400 pieces of legislation spanning over 300 individual policy areas.

“This catalogue will be available on gov.uk through an interactive dashboard. It will be updated on a quarterly basis so that the public can count down retained EU law as the Government reforms it.”

Labour blames PM for soaring inflation

Labour labels the Bill of Rights ‘a con’

Labour has criticised the Government’s new Bill of Rights. 

Shadow justice minister Ellie Reeves told the Commons: “This is a very dark day for victims of crime, for women, for people in care, for everyone in this country who rely on the state to protect them from harm. 

“This is not a Bill of Rights, it is a con.” 

Ms Reeves said the Government looks to “pick a fight to cover up its own failures and then finds someone else to blame”.

Dominic Raab presents Bill of Rights to Parliament

Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary, is presenting the Government’s new Bill of Rights to the House of Commons this afternoon (you can read about what is in the Bill here). 

Mr Raab told MPs that the legislation will “restore a healthy dose of common sense” to the justice system.

“Our Bills of Rights will strengthen our proud tradition of freedom, it will demarcate a clearer separation of powers,” he said. 

“It will ensure greater respect for our democratic institutions and it will better protect the public and restore a healthy dose of common sense to the justice system which is essential for commanding public confidence. Ultimately it will make us freer, it will help keep our streets safer.”

PMQs snap analysis

It was inevitable that Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer would clash over rail strikes at Prime Minister’s Questions today. 

But it will be the PM who will feel like he got the better of the exchanges. 

Sir Keir continues to frame the industrial action as being the fault of the Government after it failed to intervene in talks.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson maintains that it is not the job of ministers to resolve the dispute, instead blaming the unions for bringing the country to a halt. 

Sir Keir has tried to stay away from the question of whether the strikes are right or wrong but the decision by numerous Labour MPs to join the picket line yesterday weakened his position and left him open to attack.

Boris Johnson was quick to try to capitalise and Sir Keir struggled to get the debate back onto his own terms. 

PM tells Labour MP to ‘get off the picket line’

Kate Osborne, the Labour MP for Jarrow who is also a member of the Labour frontbench, joined union members on the picket line yesterday despite an order from Sir Keir Starmer to stay away. 

Ms Osborne asked Boris Johnson at PMQs: “When is he going to stop meaningless soundbites and instead start supporting working people across our country?”

Mr Johnson replied: “If she wants to support the working people of this country can I suggest she gets off the picket line, which is where she has been and has a word with her leader and supports the travelling public of this country who want to see a reduction in their costs of transport which this government is delivering.” 

‘Nobody wants a trade war’

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, said the UK economy is “lagging behind” on Boris Johnson’s watch as he claimed the Government’s “disastrous Brexit is driving wages down, pushing inflation up and will make us poorer over the next decade”. 

Told that the Government’s Northern Ireland Protocol plans could trigger a trade war with the EU which could then tip the UK into a recession, Mr Johnson said: “Nobody wants a trade war nor is there any need for one. I’m afraid he is underestimating what this country is currently achieving.”

Tories have ‘left the UK economy in the doldrums

Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP in Westminster, pointed to inflation hitting a 40 year high and said after 12 years in power, the Tories have “left the UK economy in the doldrums and pushed millions of people into poverty”. 

He asked Boris Johnson why the UK is “doing so much worse than our European neighbours”. 

Mr Johnson dismissed the suggestion and said “we have got a global inflationary problem but this Government has the fiscal firepower to deal with it”.

PM and Labour leader clash over armed forces pay

Sir Keir Starmer said that working people are paying more tax under the current Government and “now they are told to take a pay cut”. 

He said: “He is having meetings about increasing bankers’ bonuses but he can’t find time for a single meeting to end the strikes crippling the country.”

The Labour leader said that armed forces personnel are facing a real terms pay cut on Mr Johnson’s watch. 

The PM hit back and said: “How absolutely satirical that he should talk about our support for the armed forces when we have increased funding for our armed forces by a record sum since the end of the Cold War and when eight of the shadow frontbench actually want to get rid of our nuclear deterrent.”

Labour leader accuses PM of ‘blaming everyone else’ on strikes

Sir Keir Starmer said of Boris Johnson that “all he is interested in doing is blaming everyone else” on rail strikes. 

The Labour leader said the nation is “screaming” at the PM to tell him to “get on with your job”. 

Mr Johnson said what the Government is “trying to do is cut the cost of transport which is a big part of people’s weekly outgoings by reforming our railways”.

He said: “That is what we are trying to do but he is standing with the strikers and lifting the cost of transport for everybody. That is the reality.”

Keir Starmer tells PM to ‘get the trains running’

Sir Keir Starmer said the PM and the Transport Secretary have not held a “single meeting, held a conversation or lifted a finger to stop these strikes”. 

The Labour leader told the PM to “do his job” and “get the trains running”. 

Mr Johnson said the Government is doing “everything we can to prevent these strikes” but it is “up to the railway companies to negotiate, that is their job”. 

He added: “The reason his authority is on the line on this matter is that they take £10 million from the unions. That is the fee that the learned gentleman opposite is receiving for the case he is failing to make.” 

Boris Johnson labels Labour a ‘disgrace’ over strikes

Sir Keir Starmer said thousands of families have had their holidays cancelled, many are facing delays in getting their passports renewed and there are now rail strikes. 

He said: “If he is genuine about preventing strikes will the Prime Minister tell this House how many meetings he or his transport secretary have had with rail workers this week to actually stop the strikes.” 

Mr Johnson said: “This is the Government that loves the railways, that invests in the railways, £96 billion we are putting into the integrated railway plan… but what we have got to do is modernise our railways and it is a disgrace when we are planning to make sure that you don’t have ticket offices that sell fewer than one ticket ever hour that he yesterday had 25 Labour MPs out on the picket line defying instructions… backing the strikers while we back the strivers.” 

PM slams Keir Starmer over strikes 

Sir Keir Starmer used his first question to attack the Tories over the Wakefield by-election which is due to take place tomorrow. 

Boris Johnson hit back as he slammed the Labour leader for failing to speak out about yesterday’s rail strikes. 

Mr Johnson said: “I have absolutely no doubt that the people of this country and the people of Wakefield, the people of Tiverton and Honiton, would much rather vote for a solid Conservative government over a Labour Party, their enablers and acolytes in the Liberal Democrats, the karma chameleons of British politics, when the leader of the Labour Party hasn’t even got the gumption to speak out against the rail strikes that are doing so much damage to the people up and down this country. Unbelievable silence from the leader of the Labour Party.” 

PMQs now underway

The first question of the session is from Labour MP Chris Elmore who asked Boris Johnson: “Has he ever considered the appointment of his current spouse to a Government post or to any organisation in one of the Royal households? Be honest Prime Minister, yes or no.” 

Mr Johnson replied:  “I know why the party opposite wants to talk about non-existent jobs in the media because they don’t want to talk about what is going on in the real world.” 

Boris Johnson arrives at PMQs

Boris Johnson has just arrived in the House of Commons ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions. 

The Prime Minister has now taken his seat on the Government frontbench. PMQs should be underway imminently. 

Busy House of Commons awaits PM

The House of Commons is almost full ahead of PMQs. 

There had been a feeling that there could be some gaps in the chamber today because of the rail strikes but that is not the case. 

Teachers threaten strike if they don’t get ‘inflation-plus’ pay rise

Teachers will ballot to go on strike if they are not given an “inflation-plus pay increase”, the general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) has threatened.

In a letter to Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, Dr Mary Bousted has said that government “inaction” is causing “real damage to education” as well as to the livelihoods of teachers.

“You must respond to the new economic reality of double-digit inflation and the threat this poses to teacher living standards,” her open letter reads.

You can read the full story here

What to expect at PMQs

Two issues are likely to dominate PMQs at noon: Inflation and rail strikes. 

Soaring inflation could prove difficult territory for Boris Johnson as the Government’s handling of the economy faces ever-growing scrutiny. 

But he will be feeling confident on the issue of industrial action and will probably want to point out that Sir Keir Starmer failed to make a single public statement on the issue yesterday. 

Interestingly, the opposite is likely to be true for the Labour leader who may feel comfortable on the economy but decidedly less so on the the issue of strikes. 

It could make for a potentially disjointed set of exchanges between the two leaders. 

Rishi Sunak defends pensions increase 

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, was asked why workers should show pay restraint when the Government is committing to giving pensioners a double-digit rise in their incomes next year.

He said: “I think we are confusing two things because we already know what pensions are going to be for this year and people are speculate on what they might be next year. 

“We have a long-standing policy in place. Pension rates are decided in the autumn, we have had the triple lock in place for a long time which protects pensioners because they are among the most vulnerable in our society.” 

Rishi Sunak tries to explain pay/pensions stance

The Government has argued that big public sector pay rises would be inflationary but a double digit increase to the state pension and benefits would not be. 

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, was asked to explain this during an interview this morning. 

He said: “Well, it is right that we reward our hard working public sector workers with a pay rise. 

“But that needs to be proportionate and balanced with the need not to make the inflationary pressures worse and also to see what is affordable for the taxpayer.

“The slight difference with pensions is pensions are not an input cost into the cost of producing goods and services we all consume so they don’t add to inflation in the same way.”

Rishi Sunak refuses to say if UK is heading for recession

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, would not be drawn when he was asked this morning on whether the UK is heading for a recession. 

He said: “Forecasters will make their predictions but I am confident that we are providing the right support to the economy at this time to help people ease through some of the challenges they are facing with the rising cost of living and rebuild a stronger economy for the long term.”

‘Bank of England will act forcefully to combat inflation’

Rishi Sunak was asked this morning if the Bank of England has lost control of inflation. 

The Chancellor didn’t answer the question directly but said the Bank will act “forcefully” to tackle rising prices. 

He said: “I want people to be reassured that we have all the tools we need and the determination to reduce inflation and bring it back down.

“Firstly the Bank of England will act forcefully to combat inflation. Secondly the Government will be responsible with borrowing and debt so we don’t make the situation worse and drives up people’s mortgage rates anymore than they are going to go up. Lastly we are improving the productivity of our economy.”

‘Ludicrous’ to increase pensions by double digits

Lord O’Neill, the former Treasury minister, said the Government’s decision to raise pensions by double digits while workers face a real terms wages cut is “ludicrous” and “crazy”. 

Asked why pensioners are getting such a big increase, the crossbench peer told the BBC: “I have no idea… it seems to me pensioners, given the pressure on fiscal policies and these inequality issues now for the past decade and beyond, the constant protection of pensioners seems ludicrous in itself and in these circumstances particularly crazy. 

“I am talking as somebody who is getting on a bit of course.” 

Bank should put up rates even if it could trigger recession

The Bank of England should continue to raise interest rates to combat inflation even if that action risks triggering a recession, Lord O’Neill has said. 

The former Treasury minister and crossbench peer was asked during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme if the Bank should continue to put up rates even if it risks a recession and he said: “Unfortunately given some of the nature of these inflationary issues now, probably yes.”

‘Far too much group think’ in western central banks

Lord O’Neill, a former Treasury minister and economist, said he believes the Bank of England will have no choice but to significantly increase interest rates in the coming months in order to tame inflation. 

He also accused western central banks of being guilty of “far too much group think” in recent years.

He told the BBC: “I don’t think the Bank really has any choice. I remember chatting on a past programme with some of your colleagues about this not so long ago, a lot of the problem here is of course coming from the supply shortages of Covid and the dreadful price consequences of the Ukraine invasion. 

“But there has been far too much group think in Western central banks for now a number of years and they just persisted with quantitative easing far too long and allowed interest rates to stay at extremely low levels for no clear obvious reason.”

‘The fundamentals are strong’

Dominic Raab said the UK economy is well-positioned to bounce back from its current problems as he argued the Government must take a “disciplined approach” to stop rampant inflation. 

He told the BBC: “The vital statistics, the fundamentals are strong, but we have got to make sure we don’t… inflict extra damage to the economy by not taking a disciplined approach to inflation.” 

Dominic Raab defends pension increase

The state pension and benefits are set to rise in line with double-digit inflation, despite the Government telling workers to accept a real terms pay cut (you can read the full story here). 

Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, has defended the approach as he said pensioners are in a “different position” to regular workers and need more support.  

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “Look, it is very important we rally together and try and get through this inflation spike as swiftly as we can. 

“I would say two things, one on your specific question, it is not true to say the constant, unyielding or blind support for pensioners, the triple lock was relaxed recently and temporarily. 

“But the reason they are in a different position, and our overall objective to answer the narrative point is to protect the most vulnerable, it is because they are particularly vulnerable and are disproportionately affected by the increase in energy costs which we know everyone is facing.”

Rail strike disruption continues

Train passengers continue to suffer disruption from the rail strikes this morning after yesterday’s industrial action across the country. 

Services started later than normal today as trains were delayed leaving depots due to Network Rail (NR) signallers and control room staff who would usually have worked overnight shifts taking part in the strike.

Passengers wait at Paddington Station in London, this morning as train services continue to be disrupted following the nationwide strike by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union

Ashlee Ruggels/PA

Just 60 per cent of trains will run across the day as a whole, and some operators will wind down services slightly earlier than normal ahead of the second day of strikes tomorrow.

The third strike of the week is planned for Saturday. Talks between the unions, Network Rail and train operating companies will resume today in a bid to resolve the bitter dispute over jobs, pay and conditions.

Commuters are seen on their bikes this morning at Vauxhall in central London

Jeremy Selwyn/Selwyn Pics

Lib Dems accuse Rishi Sunak of ‘sitting on his hands’

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said: “Rishi Sunak is standing by while millions of people suffer from eye-watering levels of inflation – he either hasn’t got any sense or any heart to not intervene.

“This Chancellor has hiked taxes time and time again, refusing to slash them to help with the cost of living emergency. Even when we know slashing VAT is a sure-fire way to help families while keeping inflation under control. 

“Instead, the Chancellor, his Prime Minister and his colleagues continue to sit on their hands while the country suffers, they are not fit for purpose.”

Labour accuses Tories of ‘mismanagement’ on inflation  

Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, said: “Today’s rising inflation is another milestone for people watching wages, growth and living standards continue to plummet.

“Though rapid inflation is pushing family finances to the brink, the low wage spiral faced by many in Britain isn’t new.

“Over the last decade, Tory mismanagement of our economy has meant living standards and real wages have failed to grow.

“We need more than sticking plasters to get us back on course – we need a stronger, and more secure economy.

Inflation continues to rise

Inflation rose by 9.1 per cent in the 12 months to May this year, according to data published by the Office for National Statistics. That is a slight increase on the nine per cent recorded in April.

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, said: “I know that people are worried about the rising cost of living, which is why we have taken targeted action to help families, getting £1,200 to the eight million most vulnerable households.

“We are using all the tools at our disposal to bring inflation down and combat rising prices – we can build a stronger economy through independent monetary policy, responsible fiscal policy which doesn’t add to inflationary pressures, and by boosting our long-term productivity and growth.”

Sir Keir Starmer faces ‘explosion’ if he disciplines Labour frontbenchers 

A former adviser to Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, has warned there will be an “explosion” if the party disciplines any frontbenchers who joined picket lines in support of striking rail workers.

Simon Fletcher, who also advised former leaders Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband, said there has been “a lot of simmering resentment and irritation” over the party’s current position.

Sir Keir is considering possible disciplinary action after he ordered frontbenchers not to join picket lines outside stations, as the country faces the biggest rail strike in a generation.

You can read the full story here.

‘We are on the side of the travelling public’ 

Labour has said it does not want the rail strikes to happen but it has not criticised the unions, instead opting to blame the Government for failing to intervene in the dispute. 

Lucy Powell, the shadow culture secretary, was asked this morning whose side Labour is on in the strikes. 

She told the BBC: “We are on the side of the travelling public. I think that is really clear. Obviously we support workers, we support workers in trying to negotiate better pay for themselves and they deserve a fairer pay settlement than is being offered at the moment. 

“But the Government want to try and make these strikes about the Labour Party but these strikes sit on the lap of the Government.”

Labour frontbencher confirms order to stay away from picket lines 

Sir Keir Starmer was defied by four frontbenchers who joined picket lines yesterday despite being ordered not to as he was accused of “hiding” over the rail strikes (you can read the full story here)

Lucy Powell, the shadow culture secretary, has confirmed that Labour frontbenchers were told to stay away from picket lines.

She told the BBC: “Yeah, we were advised not to do that. I wouldn’t have chosen to do that. I am a member of the shadow cabinet, I have influence, I have a role here as a national parliamentarian to take action, to raise issues in parliament and that is my job which we have tried to do.”

Asked if the frontbenchers who defied the order should be disciplined, Ms Powell refused to be drawn. She said: “That is a matter for the whips. But as I say, nobody wants to see these strikes happen.”

Government brings forward Bill of Rights  

The Government is today bringing forward its long-awaited Bill of Rights which will, among other things, give the UK powers to overrule European judges (you can read the full story here).

Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary, said the legislation will help crackdown on “elastic interpretations of human rights” in the legal system. 

He told Sky News: “We have got a proud tradition of liberty in this country, we want to reinforce the quintessentially UK freedoms, particularly freedom of speech which we have seen whittled away in various ways. 

“We think that that is the liberty that guards all the others. At the same time we have seen a lot of elastic interpretations of human rights particularly fuelled by the human rights Act… and we think it is right to have a proper separation of powers. 

“The UK Supreme Court should do what it says on the tin and be supreme in the legal interpretations and if the goal posts shift and you will remember the whole context around prisoner voting where we were told we had to give prisoners the vote, I think Parliament should have the last word when it comes to the law of the land.”

Dominic Raab digs in over dispute with barristers   

Barristers have voted to go on strike in a row over legal aid funding. The Criminal Bar Association (CBA), which represents barristers in England and Wales, said several days of court walkouts will begin from next week.

The strike is in protest at a proposed 15 per cent increase in the legal aid budget, which it claims is inadequate. It is demanding a minimum of 25 per cent.

Dominic Raab, the Justice Secretary, said this morning that the strike is “regrettable” but he has no intention of giving ground. 

Asked if the Government could meet the request for 25 per cent, he told Sky News: “No, they will get 15 per cent as I have already made clear.”

Dominic Raab: Government must ‘stand firm’ on pay restraint

The Government must “stand firm” on pay restraint in the public sector in order to bring down soaring inflation more quickly, Dominic Raab argued this morning. 

The Justice Secretary was asked during an interview on Sky News if he believes there will be a “summer of discontent”.

He said: “We have got unemployment at record lows, lowest levels since I was born in 1974, the fundamentals of the economy are strong. 

“We do understand all of those pressures on workers, particularly for the next year with inflation high. But if we want to get inflation down quicker we cannot relent… on these demands. 

“I always want to avoid conflict if I can but I think we have got to protect the public and the lowest paid and that means not allowing a vicious cycle of higher inflation for longer. That is an argument that we must stand firm on.”

Union’s cannot be allowed to ‘win the argument’ on pay

Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, has signalled that the Government is ready for a lengthy stand-off with unions over pay rises. 

He said the Government “can’t allow” unions to “win this argument”.

Asked how long the Government is prepared to let strikes go on for, Mr Raab told Sky News: “We can’t allow, I’m afraid, the unions in this very militant way that they’ve proceeded to win this argument because it will only hurt the poorest in our society.”

Dominic Raab warns against wage erosion

Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister, has warned that big public sector pay rises would fuel inflation and erode wages as he argued in favour of pay restraint.

He told Sky News: “If we don’t have those restraints inflation will go higher for longer and that will only undermine the pay packages of workers, particularly the most vulnerable workers, for a longer period of time.

“We are taking the action, we are taking a firm line with, for example, the RMT union precisely because we want to protect this erosion of pay packets by inflation.”

Good morning

 Good morning and welcome to today’s politics live blog. 

Soaring inflation and rail strikes are the two main issues of the day in Westminster while the Government is also bringing forward its long-awaited Bill of Rights. 

Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary, is on the morning media round for the Government and he has been talking about all three issues. 

Let’s start the day by looking at what he has said. 

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