Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the CBI conference
- Theresa May’s CBI Q&A – Summary
- Jeremy Corbyn’s CBI Q&A – Summary
- Lunchtime summary
- Afternoon summary
My response to the Panorama programme pic.twitter.com/zqJmI4p0gY
The motion passed on Wednesday obliges ministers to provide the committee of exiting the European Union with the impact assessments arising from sector analyses. That should be done very promptly indeed. Failing that I expect ministers to explain to the House before we rise tomorrow evening why they have not and when they intend to do so.
The Foreign Office has put out a statement about the claim that, by wrongly telling a committee last week that the British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was “teaching people journalism” when she was arrested in Iran, Boris Johnson risked adding five years to her sentence.
Johnson has not retracted his comment, but the Foreign Office is claiming it was misinterpreted. A Foreign Office spokesman said:
Last week’s remarks by the foreign secretary provide no justifiable basis on which to bring any additional charges against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
While criticising the Iranian case against Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the foreign secretary sought to explain that even the most extreme set of unproven Iranian allegations against her were insufficient reason for her detention and treatment.
If you look at what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing, she was simply teaching people journalism as I understand it, at the very limit.
Brexit secretary David Davis has said it may not be in the “public interest” to publish the government’s analysis of the impact of Brexit on 58 sectors including pharmaceuticals, road haulage and retail.
He was responding to an urgent request last week from the chairman of the Brexit select committee, Hilary Benn, to publish the assessments sooner than the three months allowable under government technical rules.
There are a number of reasons why we believe that it would not be in the public interest for elements of the analysis, at least, to find their way into the public domain.
David Davis tells Hilary Benn that it may not be “in the public interest” to release all the work govt has done on impact of Brexit. pic.twitter.com/Tnceo1aYAj
It is a wide mix of qualitative and quantative analysis, contained in a range of documents .. since the referendum.
Kate Osamor, the shadow international development secretary, says Priti Patel should resign for breaching the ministerial code. The code says that “ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or could reasonably be perceived to arise, between their public duties and their private interests, financial or otherwise”.
Priti Patel breached Ministerial Code, and now caught misleading British public. If she doesn’t resign, May must launch investigation.
Jonathan Lis, deputy director of the thinktank British Influence, has posted a fascinating Brexit thread on Twitter. It starts here.
Back from meetings in Brussels. There’s good news and bad news. First, the bad news. Because it’s… extremely bad. 1/
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said the Queen’s tax affairs should be subject to the inquiry his party has called for into tax avoidance in the wake of the Paradise Papers revelations.
“There should be a review,” Corbyn said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “An inquiry into all the revelations about the Paradise Papers.”
Everybody. The Royal Household are subject to taxation. I don’t know what has happened in that case. These issues all must be part of that.
This is what Number 10 is saying about the Priti Patel story. This is from a Downing Street spokesman.
The prime minister welcomes the secretary of state’s clarification about her trip to Israel and has accepted her apology for her handling of the matter.
The prime minister met the secretary of state this morning to remind her of the obligations which exist under the ministerial code.
Priti Patel, the international development secretary, has issued a remarkable apology and correction in relation to her trip to Israel in the summer. She has been engaged in a briefing war with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the FCO has beaten her hands down. It is rare to see a cabinet minister humbled in quite this way.
The spate started on Friday when the BBC reported that Patel had had undisclosed meetings in Israel without telling the Foreign Office, accompanied by an influential pro-Israeli Conservative lobbyist, during the summer.
This summer I travelled to Israel, on a family holiday paid for myself.
While away I had the opportunity to meet a number of people and organisations. I am publishing a list of who I met. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office was aware of my visit while it was underway.
On Friday 3rd November, the secretary of state was quoted in the Guardian newspaper as follows:
“Boris knew about the visit. The point is that the Foreign Office did know about this, Boris knew about [the trip].”
We need a Brexit that puts jobs and living standards first and it is Labour that has common ground with you on putting the needs of the economy front and centre stage.
We have common ground on the need for transitional arrangements to be agreed immediately so that businesses know they won’t face a cliff-edge Brexit when the two year negotiating period is up …
Caroline Lucas, the only Green MP and the party’s co leader, has said that Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal for MPs to receive training in employment standards after each election (see 12.43pm) does not go far enough. In a statement she said:
I’m pleased that the leader of the opposition is joining me in calling for MPs to receive training in employment standards. His proposals are a step forward, but don’t go far enough because they mean waiting for a general election to start this training when it really should begin immediately. This kind of consent and employment training should be compulsory – and it should start now.
Today I’ll be urging the prime minister to introduce consent lessons, look at reforming employment structures, so that MPs are no longer employers, bring in a code of conduct for MPs and resource parties to help them have more robust and independent legal and human resource capacity. We also need a robust independent grievance and complaints process here in Parliament.
Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, has said that he hopes the UK and the US will be able to agree a post-Brexit free trade in less than a decade. As the Press Association reports, Ross was speaking at the end of a visit to the UK. He described an FTA with the UK as a priority for Washington, but admitted that it would be “very complex” to complete.
Asked whether a UK FTA could take as long as 10 years, he said:
I hesitate to put an exact parameter of dates on it. Hopefully not a decade.
It isn’t that I’m forecasting that it will take a decade … It’ll take whatever time it takes, but given the good relationship between the two countries and assuming that the scoping exercise turns out to be fruitful and further assuming that there are no big landmines in the exit agreement between the UK and the EC, then it shouldn’t take terribly long.
Jeremy Corbyn’s office has made it clear that he was not saying the Queen should apologise for her offshore investment when he answered a question from the Daily Telegraph at the CBI conference. (See 12.26pm and and 1.04pm.) A spokesman for Corbyn said:
Jeremy did not call for the Queen to apologise but said anyone who puts money into a tax haven to avoid paying tax should, and that they should recognise the damage done by avoidance to society. Labour is calling for a public inquiry into tax avoidance.
Here are the main points from Jeremy Corbyn’s Q&A.
I feel very strongly about the principle of the green belt, because if you take away this cordon of green space and cleaner air around big cities, I think you have the danger of massive ribbon development. So I am somebody that is very sceptical about building on the green belt. I see that in some cases there are land swaps that go on, where a piece of open space is created somewhere else in return for it. That obviously is a trade off that can be looked at.
But I just think as a society we all need a bit of open space around us. We all value our parks. You don’t go to them every day, but it’s good for you to know they are there and good for everybody else if they want to go and use them. So I am concerned about encroaching on the green belt.
Anyone that is putting money into tax havens in order to avoid taxation in Britain, and obviously investigations have to take place, should do two things: not just apologise for it but also recognise what it does to our society, because if a very wealthy person wants to avoid taxation in Britain and therefore put money into a tax haven somewhere, who loses? Schools, hospitals, housing, all those public services lose and the rest of the population have to pay to cover up the deficit created by that …
We simply have to challenge the culture that there is something clever about avoiding taxation. Taxation is what gives us ambulances, gives us fire tenders, gives us safety in our lives and we all have a responsibility to pay for it.
Here is the Conservative MP Anna Soubry commenting on Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the CBI.
Labour has released the text of an open letter that Jeremy Corbyn has sent to Theresa May ahead of the meeting later this afternoon to discuss plans for a new body to investigate sexual harassment complaints at Westminster.
In his letter Corbyn proposes training for MPs in employment standards after each election and setting up an authority to oversee the way MPs’ staff are treated. He also says the parliamentary staff trade unions should be involved in the discussions about reform.
The Labour party believes it is essential to listen to staff, both individually and collectively, which is why all Members of the Parliamentary Labour Party are strongly encouraged to urge their staff to join the appropriate trade union branch. And we believe the House and each political party should encourage all staff members to join a trade union.
Trade union representation is a vital mechanism for strengthening effective action and protection against sexual and other forms of harassment and abuse at work, and the problems in achieving effective trade union representation and recognition in parliament have made that more difficult.
Q: Would Labour have a comprehensive review of the green belt?
Corbyn says he represents an inner London constituency. All his time as an MP he has been dealing with the housing crisis. Over-crowding is particularly damaging to children, he says.
I am somebody that is very sceptical about building on the green belt.
Q: [From the Telegraph] Should the Queen apologise for her private estate making offshore investments?
Corbyn says anyone making offshore investments to avoid tax in the UK should not just apologise, but recognise that public services in the UK are losing as a result. So the Paradise Papers are “quite shocking”, he says. He says he raised some of these issues at PMQs. There should be an immediate public inquiry, he says.
Corbyn is now taking questions.
He says the UK is into a fourth industrial revolution. The profits from new technology must be shared fairly, he says.
Corbyn defends Labour’s manifesto plans to nationalise railways, the Royal Mail, the energy companies and the water industry. He says:
Because every one of you in this room who knows what goes into seeing an idea brought to market or what it takes to survive the cut and thrust of consumer choice month to month, knows that privatised monopoly utilities are not real markets. Where’s the pressure for efficiency and innovation if consumers cannot go elsewhere when they are dissatisfied?
I know some of you disagree and think that bringing some parts of the economy into public ownership won’t be good for the reputation of business, but it’s not good for the image of business when water companies pay out billions in dividend and interest payments through opaque financial arrangements, while households see their bills go up to pay for it.
And Corbyn turns to the sexual harassment scandal.
And there’s another area where we have we all have a duty to act – and act now.
Faced with the ongoing revelations about sexual harassment we should make this a turning point and a moment of real change. We must no longer allow anyone to be abused in the workplace.
Corbyn turns to the Paradise Papers revelations.
The shocking revelations from the Paradise Papers today, yet again of widespread tax avoidance and evasion on an industrial scale must lead to decisive action and real change.
It is by no means all big businesses but these actions by a few undermine trust in all businesses.
Corbyn says Labour would raise taxation for business.
We will, as you know, raise some taxes to pay for it, to ensure that our spending plans fit within the constraints of our fiscal credibility rule.
But when we do, we will be clear and open about our tax plans, as we were during the general election campaign. We won’t do it by stealth.
Corbyn is now talking about economic policy generally.
He says, if productivity forecasts are revised downwards, that will create a huge problem for government finances.
Business investment is being held back by creaking infrastructure and a shortage of skilled workers. So government must take the lead and act first. Yet under the Conservatives, crucial infrastructure investment has been delayed – from rail electrification to the Swansea Tidal Lagoon. The adult skills budget has been slashed. They even went into the election promising to cut schools funding per pupil in real terms.
The chancellor should use his autumn budget to change direction, and invest for long-term growth. That is what Labour has already pledged to do with a national transformation fund – to upgrade our country’s infrastructure and reverse years of under-investment in the regions, investing in transport, energy and digital infrastructure right across the country.
Corbyn says the final deal should retain the benefits of the common market and the customs union.
Labour will put pressure on the government to achieve this, he says.
Corbyn says Labour and business also agree that a no deal Brexit would be unacceptable.
And we have common ground on the threat of “no deal”, which, contrary to secretary of state for international trade, is potentially a nightmare scenario – one that involves tariffs on our food imports and our manufacturing exports, queues at our ports, and a hard border in Northern Ireland, with all the dangers that could bring.
The fact that some in the cabinet want “no deal” to re-launch Britain as a race-to-the-bottom deregulated tax haven on the shores of Europe only adds to the risks.
Corbyn turns to Brexit.
Watching chaos and confusion grow at the heart of government and Brexit negotiations stuck in a stalemate, many of you probably feel that the situation is more uncertain and more precarious than ever. Time is running out …
A few weeks ago, you joined forces with Britain’s other major business organisations – the Engineering Employers Federation, the Chamber of Commerce, the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Business – to ask the Government to heed the needs of business as they negotiate our exit from the European Union.
Corbyn says Britain needs a pay rise.
In this living wage week, of all weeks, we have to be clear that Britain needs a pay rise. When too much of household income is going to pay debts or rent then that’s less money for consumers to spend on productive businesses. That’s why Labour backs a real living wage and sensible controls on rents and debts.
Corbyn says the wealth have been getting wealthier. Labour did better than expected at the election because it offered real change, he says.
He says since June the political establishment has caught up. People on all sides are calling for change. Sajid Javid is calling for more borrowing, and Jeremy Hunt is calling the public sector pay cap to be lifted, he says.
We have seen the terms of economic debate shift dramatically. It is a measure of the essential pragmatism of business people that so many have changed their outlook too. Business people across the country have expressed to me a growing awareness – and acceptance – that things need to change. The London Chamber of Commerce recently called for councils to be allowed to borrow freely to build housing.
We all know an economic model that allows a few to grow very rich while the majority face falling incomes and rising indebtedness, that leaves too many people in unfulfilling and insecure work, that is overly reliant on one sector in one region of our country, is neither stable nor sustainable.
Paul Drechsler, the CBI president, has just welcomed Jeremy Corbyn to the stage. He said that he was delighted to have Corbyn speaking. Once that might have sounded diplomatic, but today Drechsler sounds very authentic. And Corbyn gets a warm round of applause as he takes to the stage.
At the Monday morning lobby briefing with journalists, the prime minister’s spokesman has played down the idea that Theresa May was signalling she expected more sexual harassment cases to emerge in the coming days. (See 11.02am.) He added:
The way I took her answer was, where allegations have been made known to her, action has been taken straight away. All claims that she’s aware of have been investigated in the proper way.
I think we’ve been clear as to what we want to achieve. I’ve been asked questions in relation to the whips’ office while the prime minister’s been in charge and I’ve answered that she had confidence they behaved in the right way.
I’m not privy to all the conversations the prime minister has, but in relation to the operation of the whips’ office while she’s been prime minister, she’s confident that it’s behaved in the proper way.
This is what Theresa May said about the Westminster sexual harassment scandal in her speech. The extract is worth quoting in full.
Parliament and Whitehall are special places in our democracy. But they are also places of work too, and exactly the same standards and norms should govern them as any other workplace.
What has been revealed over the last few weeks has been deeply troubling, and has understandably led to significant public unease.
These are from the Times’ Sam Coates.
Tory chatter: Amber Rudd could take over as First Secretary of State while remaining home secretary if Green has to go
Although I think allies of Damian Green have an aspiration that the inquiry could be concluded by as early as the end of today https://t.co/UELQdBjBDU
Here are the main points from Theresa May’s Q&A.
Obviously what has happened is over the last week a number of stories have appeared in the press. A number of issues were raised with me that didn’t appear in the press. And, as you have seen, action has been taken. A number of people in my party have been referred to the Conservative party’s grievance procedure, and arrangements that have been put in place. And a number of people have been referred to the cabinet secretary, where they are in ministerial positions and it is appropriate for the cabinet secretary to look at these issues.
What I also want to see, though, is – this is not just for political parties. I believe it is so important that Westminster itself, parliament itself, has a proper process for grievance procedures, has a proper process where people can make complaints and bring allegations. Because I want people working in parliament to have the confidence that they can come forward with those allegations, that they can come forward and report misconduct that has taken place. And I want both sides to have the confidence that those concerns will be properly investigated, will be fairly and properly investigated.
PM doesn’t quite clearly answer my Q on whether she had heard concerns about harassment before last couple of weeks
There is already work that has been done to ensure that we see greater transparency in our dependencies and overseas territories. And we continue to work with them. HMRC is already able to see more information about the ownership of shell companies, for example, so that they can ensure people are paying their tax. We want people to pay the tax that is due.
First of all, as everybody will appreciate, we are in a negotiation with the European Union. What I have been clear about in the Florence speech is the sort of partnership the UK wants to see with EU 27 in the future …
The implementation period – I believe first of all we need to get full agreement that this is something that will happen. Then we’ll need to negotiate the details. Of course, some of those details, you need to know what the end state is, what that future partnership is, because this is about practical change, moving to that future partnership. But I was clear in Florence that I think businesses should have the comfort of knowing that they will be able to operate on the same basis as they currently can during that implementation period.
This is from Sky’s Faisal Islam.
Straight after PM leaves CBI stage… OECD Chief Gurria says Brexit vote has hit growth, sending from fastest growing to slowest major econ
May says the government has to look at what it is doing to promote diversity. She commissioned the racial disparity audit, and published it. It made awkward reading, she says.
And that’s it. The Q&A is over.
Q: [From the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg] Can you say hand on heart that you were not aware of any of the concerns about sexual harassment that emerged over the last few weeks?
May says she was made aware of some concerns, some of which have appeared in the press and some of which haven’t. Action has been taken, she says. But she says it is important to ensure parliament itself has proper grievance procedures in place.
Q: You want the outlines of a transition deal by early next year. Why should businesses rely on an outline agreement not set in stone? And how confident are you of getting a full trade deal by next autumn?
May says the government is in a negotiation.
Q: What can businesses do to get young people more involved in business?
May says she would like to see businesses more involved in schools. They can show young people how exciting business can be.
May has finished. She is now taking question.
Q: [From my colleague Jessica Elgot] David Cameron said aggressive tax avoidance was not acceptable. Will you create a public register of offshore trust?
May is now talking about the sexual harassment scandal.
She says people should be able to work in an atmosphere where they feel safe. Political parties have not always got this right. But she is determined to get it right now, she says.
We need to establish a new culture of respect at the centre of our public life. One in which everyone can feel confident that they are working in a safe and secure environment, where complaints can be brought forward without prejudice and victims know that those complaints will be investigated properly. And where people’s careers cannot be damaged by unfounded rumours circulated anonymously online.
May says the government wants to improve its offer on technical education.
But that does not mean it does not also want to make university education more accessible, she says.
Here is Sky’s Lewis Goodall on the speech.
This speech perfectly demonstrates May’s basic problem. All the audience wants is Brexit certainty. And she just can’t give it to them.
May is now talking about new technologies. We should see them as a force for good, she says.
But MLex’s Matthew Holehouse says at least one line in the speech is interesting.
Most interesting line in May’s speech. Gentle reminder that Art50 is merely the end of the beginning pic.twitter.com/aZpNYqwd1D
This is from MailOnline’s Tim Sculthorpe.
Even by her not very illustrious standards, this is pretty ponderous stuff from May. Nothing to say.
May is now talking about Brexit.
Our EU negotiating team is now preparing for the next phase, and I particularly welcome the beginning of internal discussions among the EU 27 about their position on our future relationship and the implementation period. When sufficient progress is agreed we want to move as quickly as possible on both of these issues.
Throughout this process, I have been determined to give business and industry as much certainty as possible. Achieving that maximum certainty was the first objective I set in my Lancaster House speech in January and it has remained fundamental to the government’s negotiations to date.
May says, by setting the right framework, government can broaden its economic base.
She make the point about a balanced approach to intervention in the extracts released overnight. (See 9.41am.)
May says the government has to make choices about how it intervenes to help the economy.
The government should focus on helping for the long term, she says.
May says the economy has been transformed since the financial crisis. Now the government has to look to the future.
Our job now is to look to the future. If the last ten years have seen us weathering the storm of the financial crisis rebuilding our fiscal and economic position, the next ten years must see the beginning of a new chapter in the story of the British economy.
This is from the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg.
May speech defending free markets and partnership btw biz and govt – this room wants more decisive action on Brexit
May says she is very proud of the business leaders she takes with her on trade missions abroad.
She mentions some recent investments in the UK, and says we should remember that these investments mean; they are an investment in people’s lives, she says.
Theresa May has just started speaking to the CBI conference.
She starts by praising the role played by free markets.
Paul Drechsler, the CBI president, is speaking to the CBI conference now. Here are the main points he is making.
As you’d expect our largest and best-resourced companies lead the way with contingency planning – financial services, tech, logistics.
But for SMEs, powerhouses of the UK economy, things are taking longer. They tell us they’re struggling. Struggling to plan, to predict, to calculate.
According to the extracts from Theresa May’s CBI speech released in advance, she will urge business to face the future as “rational optimists”. She will say:
As we look ahead to the next ten years for Britain’s economy, we should do so as rational optimists. There are huge opportunities ahead. Making the most of them will demand hard work, imagination, and commitment.
But Britain has succeeded in the past when we have been confident in our strengths and bold in our action. When we have backed the ambition of our wealth-creators, who use their talent, hard work and skill to take a chance, to grow a business and to spread economic opportunity to others.
We cannot – and will not try – to make a plan for every corner of our economy. We believe in the free market and won’t attempt to shield the economy from market forces. So we will have to make strategic decisions about where the government can – and where it cannot – best support key sectors of our economy.
Such an approach avoids the failed state interventionism of the 1970s. But it also learns from the past failures of governments to give sectors and places across the country the long-term support they need to cope with economic change and compete in a changing global market place.
Reader request: For most of last weeks comments were turned off on this blog because the sexual harassment scandal was the main story of the week and we were worried that people might post libellous comments about individuals. (Contrary to what some people think, the Guardian is legally liable for what gets posted BTL.) This morning we’re turning them back on, not least because Brexit and the CBI speeches are likely to be the main story. But if the comments start straying into legally difficult territory, they will get turned off again. Please act responsibly. General comments are, of course, fine, but don’t use this space to make allegations against individuals.
Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are both speaking at the CBI conference in London today and there is a good chance that the event will end up becoming a Brexit beauty parade, with the prime minister and the Labour leader setting out contrasting approaches to leaving the EU. In one of the many ironies of the new era we inhabit, the leftwing Labour leader, whose empathy supplies for the big business corporates represented by the CBI are almost non-existent, could well get a better reception.
As Peter Walker reports in his preview story, based on extracts from both speeches released in advance, May will say that “a strictly time-limited implementation [transition] period will be crucial to our future success”. But Corbyn will go further, saying that transition agreements should be “agreed immediately”.
This is an extraordinarily important time for the Brexit negotiations, that run-up to Christmas, where businesses really need more certainty and more clarity and the reason why it has become so urgent is that we’re now in the window of decision making. We’ve just done a survey which shows that 60% of firms will have taken steps to implement contingency plans by the end of next March, now that’s real jobs, real people and real implications for our economy.
The message from us, from business, is more certainty quickly particularly around transition, particularly in the next four weeks …. Three-quarters of firms told us that a transition deal would lead them to put their contingency plans on pause.