Johnson and Starmer clash over strikes as No 10 warns against ‘reckless’ pay rises – UK politics live

No 10 says increasing public sector pay in line with inflation would be ‘reckless’

At the post-PMQs lobby briefing the PM’s spokesperson said that to raise public sector pay in line with inflation – as the National Education Union is demanding for teachers (see 10.37am) – would be “reckless”.

As the Mirror reports, asked to explain why a pay rise in line with inflation would be reckless, the spokesperson replied:

It involves chasing inflation with wages, so that you end up having a knock-on impact of pushing inflation ever higher and therefore means the pay people do take home is worth less.

The spokesperson also gave a more developed answer than was available yesterday as to why it was right for the government to increase state pensions next year by about 10%, but not salaries for public sector workers. (See 9.23am.) The spokesperson said:

I’m not going to jump ahead to what it will or won’t be next year in terms of pensions. Most commentators recognise that the primary risk from current high levels of inflation that becomes embedded through the labour market, and through wages, there’s not the same risk of this spillover effect to private sector wages from any increase to the state pension.

Asked if the prime minister was worried about fuelling intergenerational resentment, he said:

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.

Labour has accused the Conservatives of not being fully up-front with pensioners as the government today appeared to add a “get-out clause” to the Triple Lock policy.
Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions said in March “yes, I do make that commitment” when asked about whether the State Pension will rise by the Triple Lock for the remainder of this parliament. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak also committed to the Triple Lock in his cost of living statement earlier this month. However, during a debate in the House of Commons today, Thérèse Coffey said she “cannot make any declaration about the rises in benefits […] and that is because I am required by law to undertake a review of the benefits once a year”. Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, had asked the secretary of state whether she would “resile from her position to uprate pensions and benefits in line with September’s inflation”.

The chairman of the justice select committee has expressed concerns over “restrictions” on the way parliament is able to interpret cases in the government’s plan for a British bill of rights.

Conservative MP Sir Bob Neill told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that “some change” to the Human Rights Act “is appropriate”.

He said: “There are some sensible things in it. Having a filter process in our UK legislation to prevent unmeritorious claims getting off the ground at a very early stage is sensible.

“When those cases eventually get to Strasbourg, there is no reason why we shouldn’t do it earlier on.

“And I think, you know, protecting the public, making sure that’s there is sensible, but I do have concerns about undue restrictions on the way in which parliament is able to interpret cases on an individual basis.”

Shapps says claim he wrecked strike negotiations ‘a total lie’

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has accused Mick Lynch of “wasting time making false claims in the media” after the union boss accused him of wrecking negotiations.

He said in a statement: “This is a total lie from the RMT and its general secretary. I have had absolutely nothing to do with either the issuing of a letter from Network Rail, the employer, to the RMT – or any request to withdraw it.

“I understand that the letter makes no mention of 2,900 redundancies, but I do know it confirmed Network Rail would be introducing desperately needed reforms for the industry after the union chose strike action instead of further talks.

“The RMT continues to deflect from the fact that the only people responsible for the massive public disruption this week is them.

“I want to urge Mick Lynch and his members to stop wasting time making false claims in the media and instead return to the negotiating table so an agreement can be reached.”

Sir Keir is understood to be waiting until the end of the industrial action before instructing chief whip Alan Campbell to deal with any disciplinary issues relating to the strike, PA reports.

Following PMQs, a Labour spokesman said Campbell would make a decision in the “next few days”.

He would not be drawn on what form any action might take, but said “the chief whip is aware of Keir’s wishes”.

“I think the right way is for the process to go ahead as it should, and that is for the chief whip to speak to the individuals concerned,” he added.

Afternoon summary

  • Downing Street has said it would be “reckless” to give public sector workers pay rises in line with inflation. (See 2.49pm.)
  • Labour has claimed that the bill of rights bill announced today amounts to an “attack on women”. (See 12.51pm.)

Three-day court hearing set for July to decide if Rwanda deportation policy lawful

Diane Taylor

Diane Taylor

A three-day high court hearing has been agreed to determine whether the Home Office’s controversial plans to remove some asylum seekers to Rwanda is lawful. The hearing will take start on 19 July, a high court judge confirmed today.

Representatives for those involved in the case urged the judge, Mr Justice Swift, to delay the hearing to allow more time for evidence to be gathered and to allocate more than three days for the hearing. He refused.

The Home Office is hoping to get the European Court of Human Rights to change its mind about an interim ruling against a decision which led to the grounding of the inaugural flight to Rwanda last week.

In written submissions to the high court this week about the Rwanda deportation case the home secretary wrote: “The UK has informed the ECtHR that it intends to submit representations imminently.”

However, ECtHR told the Guardian that certain criteria would need to be met before a ruling of the kind made last week could be set aside. These issues are unlikely to be resolved before the full high court hearing next month which will examine the lawfulness of Home Office’s plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

“An interim measure would usually only be lifted if the court was satisfied that there was no imminent risk of irreparable harm to the applicant. That test would normally be satisfied in an expulsion case if either there was no imminent risk of expulsion, or if the court was satisfied that if expelled, there would no longer be a real risk of irreparable harm,” a spokesperson for ECtHR said.

Lawyers have now had time to read the text of the bill of rights bill. Here is the start of a thread by Mark Elliott, professor of public law at Cambridge University.

And here are his conclusions.

To conclude (I’ll do a blogpost setting out these thoughts in more detail): the Bill of Rights seems to me significantly to weaken the scope for domestic protection of ECHR rights. /27

— Mark Elliott (@ProfMarkElliott) June 22, 2022

The overall strategy appears to be to marginalise the influence of the ECtHR while reducing domestic courts’ scope to uphold Convention rights. /28

— Mark Elliott (@ProfMarkElliott) June 22, 2022

Domestic courts’ powers are limited in a variety of ways, including the abolition of the s 3 HRA interpretive obligation/power; micro-management of how Convention rights are interpreted; and several provisions that explicitly limit domestic courts’ powers. /29

— Mark Elliott (@ProfMarkElliott) June 22, 2022

The key point is that *nothing* in the Bill of Rights changes the position in international law. The UK’s binding treaty obligations as a State Party to the ECHR will remain *exactly the same*. /30

— Mark Elliott (@ProfMarkElliott) June 22, 2022

This means that while individuals in the UK will be less able to obtain relief in UK courts, things that were breaches of Convention rights before the Bill of Rights will *still* be breaches of Convention rights *under* the Bill of Rights. /31

— Mark Elliott (@ProfMarkElliott) June 22, 2022

Here is the start of a thread on the same topic by David Allen Green, the lawyer and legal commentator.

The new “Bill of Rights”

– a brief thread about how the Bill is fundamentally different from the Human Rights Act 1998

— davidallengreen (@davidallengreen) June 22, 2022

And here are two of his conclusions.

This is thereby not so much a repeal of the Human Rights Act, but a re-enactment of it – but with a new title

The portentous “Bill of Rights”

— davidallengreen (@davidallengreen) June 22, 2022

The rest of the Bill has many provisions to make it harder for those rights to be enforceable in practical situations

Odd of a “Bill of Rights” if you think about it

But none of those provisions affect the core of the bill

Which is *identical* to the Human Rights Act

— davidallengreen (@davidallengreen) June 22, 2022

Rees-Mogg dismisses report setting out economic cost of Brexit as ‘regurgitation of Project Fear’

As the i’s Paul Waugh reports, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, has dismissed a report from the Resolution Foundation today setting out the damage that Brexit has done to the economy as a “regurgitation of Project Fear”.

Rees-Mogg added the biggest economic benefit of Brexit was UK’s faster vaccine which pumped “billions into the economy”.

Asked re @resfoundation report finding that Brexit has cut UK productivity by 1.3%, JRM replied: “We are not providing economic forecasts on productivity”

— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) June 22, 2022

Rees-Mogg: most reports on economic impact of Brexit were based on “counterfactuals” which are impossible to be sure about.
Stressed the “overwhelming” case for Brexit for him was “democracy”.
“The case about whether it makes you more prosperous” was a secondary issue.

— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) June 22, 2022

The Resolution Foundation report is here. And here is our story about its conclusions.

MPs have formally approved moves to allow the UK government to directly commission abortion services in Northern Ireland, PA Media reports. PA says:

The House of Commons voted 215 to 70, majority 145, in favour of the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2022.

Abortion legislation in Northern Ireland was liberalised in 2019 following laws passed by Westminster at a time when the power-sharing government at Stormont had collapsed.

But while individual health trusts in Northern Ireland currently offer services on an ad-hoc basis, the Department of Health has yet to centrally commission the services due to a political impasse at Stormont on the issue.

The DUP, which is opposed to abortion, had refused to agree to the issue being tabled on the agenda of the ministerial executive.

The government laid regulations at parliament last month that removed the need for the Department of Health to seek the approval of the wider executive to commission the services.

They have now been approved by MPs and peers.

The division list shows that 61 Tories, all eight DUP MPs and one Labour MP voted against the regulations.

Returning UK’s stockpile of weapons to pre-Ukraine levels could take several years, peers told

Returning the UK’s stockpile of weapons to pre-Ukraine war levels could take years, the head of the armed forces has said.

Giving evidence to the Lords international relations and defence committee, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, who took over as chief of the defence staff in November 2021, said even replacing less sophisticated weapons sent to Ukraine could take “several years” due to constraints on the UK’s industrial capacity.

As PA Media reports, the UK has provided a wide range of weapons to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, including anti-tank rocket launchers, armoured vehicles, anti-aircraft systems and Brimstone missiles. But replacing those weapons has become a concern for some in parliament.

Radakin told the committee that the “rate of expenditure” of weapons in Ukraine and the “industrial capacity to backfill” had already become “a significant issue”. Increased demand for weapons, both in the UK and Europe, along with Britain’s decline in industrial capacity over recent decades and current supply chain problems have added to those issues.

Radakin said the government needed to work with defence suppliers, and had already invited 12 leading companies to Downing Street for talks. But he added:

We are then talking in years, because you cannot whistle up with modern weapons a quick production line.

Yes, you can churn out shells and artillery, but even at the not super-sophisticated end, even at the modest end of an NLAW [anti-tank] weapon, then that’s going to take several years to get back to our original stocks.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

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