Politics

Ministers defend Boris Johnson’s holiday amid energy crisis – follow live


Government needs a plan to make Brexit work, says shadow trade secretary

Ministers have defended Boris Johnson’s holiday to Marbella as “reasonable”, despite heaps of criticism the trip has come at the wrong time as the government attempt to deal with the deepening energy crisis.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Sunday said he was in “regular WhatsApp contact” with the PM and that his boss deserved a breaker after having a year in which he “almost lost his life to Covid [and] his mother passed away”. Meanwhile, Home Office minister Damian Hinds this morning suggested there is never a “right time” for Mr Johnson to be away.

It has been left to Mr Kwarteng to assure the country that supplies of energy would not be interrupted during the winter. Speaking to Sky News over the weekend, he said: “I’m as certain as I could be [that Britain has enough gas] … here in the UK our job is to make sure there is minimal disruption”.

The news comes amid anger at Rishi Sunak after it emerged the chancellor is looking to save billions of pounds by “recycling” money from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) as aid spending. Campaigners believe he is preparing to use a large portion of the windfall in the overseas aid budget rather than on top of it.

Follow our live coverage below

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Energy secretary ‘certain as he can be’ gas will stay on in winter

In case you missed this yesterday. The government’s energy secretary said he is as “certain” as he can be that gas supplies will stay on this winter.

Speaking on Sunday morning Kwasi Kwarteng also ruled out lifting the energy price cap in the spring, a move called for by energy companies to let them raise prices, and said there would no prospect of imposing a new green levy on heating bills for at least a year during the crisis, reports our policy correspondent Jon Stone.

“I’m very committed and convinced that we will have full energy supply,” Mr Kwarteng told Sky News, adding: “I’m as certain as I could be.”

Sam Hancock11 October 2021 09:08

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Labour condemn govt for ‘squabbling’ instead of solving energy crisis

A Labour MP has described reports of discussions between the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy over the supply crisis as “extraordinary”.

Pat McFadden, the former shadow business secretary, told Sky News:

“We’ve got jobs crises facing a number of energy-intensive industries like steel, ceramics, papermaking and so on. They’re asking the government for help.

“Instead of their concerns being addressed, what we’ve got is this unseemly squabble between the Treasury and the Business Department.”

He added that if Treasury officials are not involved in talks “they should be”.

Sam Hancock11 October 2021 09:01

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Business secretary did not ‘tell porkies’ about help for industry

Following my post at 8.36am, here’s Adam Forrest on what was said about accusations against Kwasi Kwarteng.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng did not lie when he said there were discussions between government departments about potential support for UK firms during the energy crisis, a senior minister has insisted.

Mr Kwarteng said on Sunday that he had been in talks with the Treasury and the energy industry to work out ways to help it through the crisis.

However, officials at chancellor Rishi Sunak’s department flatly denied having been in talks with the business department – with one Treasury source accusing Mr Kwarteng of “making things up in interviews”.

Asked by Sky News if the business secretary had been “telling porkies”, the Home Office minister Damian Hinds replied: “Of course not.”

Sam Hancock11 October 2021 08:43

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‘Now not the time for a PM to be away,’ says UK Steel chief

Speaking of Gareth Stace, the UK Steel boss also appeared on LBC this morning where he called out Boris Johnson for going on holiday.

“I’m sure he can get on the phone and get talking to them but to my mind, now is not the time for a prime minister to be on holiday, from the steel sector point of view,” Mr Stace said.

Sam Hancock11 October 2021 08:40

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PM urged to ‘bang heads together’ to solve energy crisis

The Daily Mirror’s Lizzy Buchan reports the following:

Here’s what Mr Stace said on the matter when he appeared on LBC radio later on:

“This is a critical time. The business secretary has also said it’s a critical situation, and therefore why is government just sitting on its hands and doing absolutely nothing at the moment?

“From my point of view, today, with the reported government infighting between the Treasury and BEIS, the prime minister now needs to bang ministerial heads together, take control and remember that if he does nothing, then his levelling-up ambition will be left in tatters.”

Sam Hancock11 October 2021 08:37

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Home Office: Kwarteng didn’t lie about energy discussions

Some more from Damian Hinds now. The Home Office Minister this morning denied claims Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, lied when he said there were discussions between government departments about help for energy firms.

Mr Hinds was asked by Sky News if his colleague been dishonest after the Treasury denied having been in talks with his department, and replied: “Of course not.”

He then criticised “unnamed sources [these kinds of] stories come [from]”.

“The fact is government departments, government ministers talk to each other the whole time and of course with an issue like this, with these rising global prices and business having to grapple and deal with it to make sure they break even and can make a margin of course that is something that the business secretary – and of course the energy secretary – is going to be totally focussed on,” Mr Hinds added.

Sam Hancock11 October 2021 08:36

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PM ‘always in charge,’ minister says when asked about Marbella trip

Kwasi Kwarteng isn’t alone. Home Office minister Damian Hinds has also jumped to the defence of Boris Johnson over his decision to take a holiday.

Asked by Sky News if now was the right time for a holiday, Mr Hinds replied: “When is the right time? I think it is important that people do have an opportunity to be with their families to have some relaxing, unwinding.”

He continued: “But I wouldn’t want to overstate the amount of unwinding and relaxing you get to do as prime minister because as I say you are constantly in touch, you are constantly being briefed and you remain in charge of the government.”

“What is important for the rest of us actually, for the whole country, is that the prime minister does get to have some family time, does get to have a break.”

Sam Hancock11 October 2021 08:30

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Sunak under fire for ‘planning to recycle billions as aid money’

Rishi Sunak has been criticised for looking to save of billions of pounds by “recycling” money from an International Monetary Fund (IMF) as aid spending.

Campaigners believe the chancellor is preparing to use a large portion of the windfall in the overseas aid budget rather than on top of it.

It comes after the government decided to cut aid spending from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of national income this year, a move that was widely condemned and met with a rebellion of Conservative MPs, reports Liam James.

Sam Hancock11 October 2021 08:25

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PM’s holiday during energy crisis ‘reasonable’ – minister

It is “reasonable” for Boris Johnson to go on holiday while the government battle with the deepening energy crisis, a cabinet minister has said.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Sunday defended the prime minister’s decisions to fly to Marbella for a break.

Mr Kwarteng, the minister responsible for the government’s crisis response, said he was in regular contact with the prime minister via WhatsApp.

Our policy correspondent Jon Stone has the full report:

Sam Hancock11 October 2021 08:24

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Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling UK politics coverage. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates while Boris Johnson continues to be called out for going away during Britain’s energy crisis.

Sam Hancock11 October 2021 08:18

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