Sunak faces fresh revolt from Tory MPs over small boats as No 10 hints at climbdown over onshore windfarms – UK politics live

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Business leaders have warned that rail services across the north of England could “collapse into utter chaos” unless the government pushes urgently for a resolution to months of disruption, my colleague Jasper Jolly reports.

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Good morning. Rishi Sunak has only been prime minister for about a month, but already he is learning that a large part of his job consists of playing Whac-a-Mole with Tory party rebellions.

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All party leaders face backbench rebellions from time to time but, with its poll ratings still in landslide defeat territory and MPs rushing for the post-parliament lifeboats, the Conservative party is more ungovernable than usual.

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Sunak has had to postpone votes on the levelling up and regeneration bill (originally scheduled for today) because of two rebellions on it. One group of Tory MPs (the anti-growth coalition, as Liz Truss would call them), want to amend the bill to ban mandatory housebuilding targets, while another group of Tories (from the pro-growth coalition) are backing an amendment tabled by Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary, that would lift the ban on onshore windfarms. Although only 25 Tories have signed the Clarke amendment (less than half the number backing the one on housebuilding targets), Clarke’s is more dangerous because it has Labour backing.

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This morning Grant Shapps, the business secretary, was doing the morning interview round and he signalled that the Whac-a-Mole mallet is coming down on the Clarke rebellion. As my colleague Peter Walker reports, Shapps hinted that the government will avert the onshore windfarm rebellion by giving in.

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Shapps claimed that Sunak had always been in favour of new onshore windfarms being built provided local communities were in favour, but, as Peter points out, this is not true.

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Sunak was adamant in the summer leadership campaign that he would maintain the de facto ban on new onshore wind projects in England, in place since 2019. But the sheer number of Tory MPs backing the Clarke amendment means it looks like he's backing down.

&mdash; Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) November 28, 2022

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And this is what the Sunak leadership campaign said in July.

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In recognition of the distress and disruption that onshore windfarms can often cause, Rishi has also promised to scrap plans to relax the ban on onshore windfarms in England, providing certainty to rural communities.

\n

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(To be fair, that was the campaign Sunak lost. He did not make this, or any, promises during the subsequent October campaign that he won.)

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But just as one revolt gets the hammer treatment, up pops another. This morning, as the BBC reports, more than 50 Tory MPs have signed a letter to Sunak calling for a change in the law to make it easier for asylum seekers from countries like Albania, deemed safe, to be sent home.

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The letter has been coordinated by David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, and in interviews this morning he claimed that the Home Office was currently interpreting asylum laws too easily because it was allowing Albanians to claim asylum if they were at risk in their home country from criminal gangs, when asylum should only be granted in response to a threat from state persecution. “That is a misinterpretation of the asylum laws,” he told Sky News. “It was never designed for that.”

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Here is the agenda for the day.

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11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

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3pm: Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, gives evidence to the Commons Scottish affairs committee.

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After 3.30pm: MPs debate the second reading of the finance bill.

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I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions and, if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

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If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

","elementId":"931cbb84-e85f-4f0f-b4ed-b9fd4954feaf"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com

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Key events

Tom Tugendhat, the security minister, has condemned the arrest and assualt of a BBC journalist covering the protests in Shanghai by Chinese police.

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The detention of Ed Lawrence is an echo of the repression the CCP is attempting elsewhere.

China’s attempts at state repression here in the UK remind us of the urgent need to defend our own freedoms. https://t.co/Y72PW8rFVa

&mdash; Tom Tugendhat (@TomTugendhat) November 28, 2022

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The detention of Ed Lawrence is an echo of the repression the CCP is attempting elsewhere.

China’s attempts at state repression here in the UK remind us of the urgent need to defend our own freedoms. https://t.co/Y72PW8rFVa

— Tom Tugendhat (@TomTugendhat) November 28, 2022

In his interviews this morning Grant Shapps, the business secretary, also said this was of “considerable concern” to the government. “There can be absolutely no excuse whatsoever for journalists who are simply covering the process going on … being beaten by the police,” he said.

In interviews this morning David Davis, the Tory former Brexit secretary, explained how he and around 50 Tory colleagues thought the government could change the law to enable asylum seekers from countries deemed safe, like Albania, to be send back quickly. He claimed this would have a deterrent effect, as he told Sky News:

[Legislation] would go through and basically we would say to the Albanian population, anybody else who comes across the Channel will be sent back. When that starts to happen, there is no bigger deterrent … than if somebody in your village pays thousands of pounds to a human trafficker and then ends up back in the village three weeks later.

Davis also said that, if people were being brought to the UK by traffickers, they should not object to being sent home.

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&quot;If you have been human-trafficked, surely the right answer is to put you back in your own home&quot; says Conservative MP David Davis – adding &quot;there's no argument for asylum from Albania here&quot;.#KayBurley: https://t.co/WUnquWvHqf

📺 Sky 501, Virgin 602, Freeview 233 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/Uhmzq8o9DL

&mdash; Sky News (@SkyNews) November 28, 2022

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And, in his interview on the Today programme, Davis claimed that other European countries, including Sweden, a country that was “well regarded” on human rights, did not grant asylum to Albanians. Nick Robinson, the presenter, said this was in response to Sweden taking in tens of thousands of Albanians in the past.

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Could the government automatically refuse asylum claims for anyone from Albania arriving in Britain? That is the call being made in a letter to the Prime Minister by 50 Conservative MPs led by @DavidDavisMP who says Sweden already operate in this way.

&mdash; Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) November 28, 2022

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Could the government automatically refuse asylum claims for anyone from Albania arriving in Britain? That is the call being made in a letter to the Prime Minister by 50 Conservative MPs led by @DavidDavisMP who says Sweden already operate in this way.

— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) November 28, 2022

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

The Swedish Migration Agency is responsible for establishing the national list of safe countries of origin.
In 2021 it published a provision (“föreskrift”) designating Albania as a safe country of origin. https://t.co/nrZXxS6A5r

&mdash; Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) November 28, 2022

\n","url":"https://twitter.com/bbcnickrobinson/status/1597148546058199045","id":"1597148546058199045","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"ad3ec0a4-7301-4e5d-9533-ffa49629059d"}}”>

The Swedish Migration Agency is responsible for establishing the national list of safe countries of origin.
In 2021 it published a provision (“föreskrift”) designating Albania as a safe country of origin. https://t.co/nrZXxS6A5r

— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) November 28, 2022

In his Today interview Davis also said that he personally thought sending asylum seekers to Rwanda would not work as a deterrent – although he stressed that that was not the view of all the Tory MPs who have signed his letter about small boats.

The government is still committed to deporting some asylum seekers to Rwanda, but no deportations have taken place yet because the policy is still being challenged in court.

North of England rail faces ‘utter chaos’, warns business group

Business leaders have warned that rail services across the north of England could “collapse into utter chaos” unless the government pushes urgently for a resolution to months of disruption, my colleague Jasper Jolly reports.

Sunak faces fresh revolt from Tory MPs over small boats as No 10 hints at climbdown over onshore windfarms

Good morning. Rishi Sunak has only been prime minister for about a month, but already he is learning that a large part of his job consists of playing Whac-a-Mole with Tory party rebellions.

All party leaders face backbench rebellions from time to time but, with its poll ratings still in landslide defeat territory and MPs rushing for the post-parliament lifeboats, the Conservative party is more ungovernable than usual.

Sunak has had to postpone votes on the levelling up and regeneration bill (originally scheduled for today) because of two rebellions on it. One group of Tory MPs (the anti-growth coalition, as Liz Truss would call them), want to amend the bill to ban mandatory housebuilding targets, while another group of Tories (from the pro-growth coalition) are backing an amendment tabled by Simon Clarke, the former levelling up secretary, that would lift the ban on onshore windfarms. Although only 25 Tories have signed the Clarke amendment (less than half the number backing the one on housebuilding targets), Clarke’s is more dangerous because it has Labour backing.

This morning Grant Shapps, the business secretary, was doing the morning interview round and he signalled that the Whac-a-Mole mallet is coming down on the Clarke rebellion. As my colleague Peter Walker reports, Shapps hinted that the government will avert the onshore windfarm rebellion by giving in.

Shapps claimed that Sunak had always been in favour of new onshore windfarms being built provided local communities were in favour, but, as Peter points out, this is not true.

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

Sunak was adamant in the summer leadership campaign that he would maintain the de facto ban on new onshore wind projects in England, in place since 2019. But the sheer number of Tory MPs backing the Clarke amendment means it looks like he's backing down.

&mdash; Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) November 28, 2022

\n","url":"https://twitter.com/peterwalker99/status/1597131824446185473","id":"1597131824446185473","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"ab24d69a-cd0e-460f-abcf-3479a9662830"}}”>

Sunak was adamant in the summer leadership campaign that he would maintain the de facto ban on new onshore wind projects in England, in place since 2019. But the sheer number of Tory MPs backing the Clarke amendment means it looks like he’s backing down.

— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) November 28, 2022

And this is what the Sunak leadership campaign said in July.

In recognition of the distress and disruption that onshore windfarms can often cause, Rishi has also promised to scrap plans to relax the ban on onshore windfarms in England, providing certainty to rural communities.

(To be fair, that was the campaign Sunak lost. He did not make this, or any, promises during the subsequent October campaign that he won.)

But just as one revolt gets the hammer treatment, up pops another. This morning, as the BBC reports, more than 50 Tory MPs have signed a letter to Sunak calling for a change in the law to make it easier for asylum seekers from countries like Albania, deemed safe, to be sent home.

The letter has been coordinated by David Davis, the former Brexit secretary, and in interviews this morning he claimed that the Home Office was currently interpreting asylum laws too easily because it was allowing Albanians to claim asylum if they were at risk in their home country from criminal gangs, when asylum should only be granted in response to a threat from state persecution. “That is a misinterpretation of the asylum laws,” he told Sky News. “It was never designed for that.”

Here is the agenda for the day.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

3pm: Alister Jack, the Scottish secretary, gives evidence to the Commons Scottish affairs committee.

After 3.30pm: MPs debate the second reading of the finance bill.

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions and, if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

Alternatively, you can email me at andrew.sparrow@theguardian.com

Updated at 09.42 GMT

The Guardian