Junior doctors in England are to go on strike again later this month and early next year, after talks with the government broke down.
The British Medical Association (BMA) says it will call on members to walk out in December before Christmas and again in early January for several days at a time.
The first strike action will take place over three days from 7am on Wednesday 20 December to 7am on Saturday 23 December.
The second walkout will be held over six days from 7am on Wednesday 3 January until 7am on Tuesday 9 January.
The BMA told its members: “This means you should not attend any shifts starting after 6.59am on the first day of strike action. You can then attend any shifts starting from 7am on the final day.”
Ministers and BMA representatives have been locked in negotiations for over a month trying to find a resolution to the pay dispute.
BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs, Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, said it was “forced to call strikes” as the “government was unable to present a credible offer on pay” after five weeks of intense talks.
“Instead, we were offered an additional 3%, unevenly spread across doctors’ grades, which would still amount to pay cuts for many doctors this year. It is clear the government is still not prepared to address the real-terms pay cut doctors have experienced since 2008,” they said.
“It is a great shame that even though the approach was more constructive, there was not enough on offer to shape a credible deal, which we hoped would end the dispute. Without enough progress by the deadline, we have no choice but to take action that demonstrates doctors are as determined as ever in reversing their pay cuts.”
In a direct appeal to Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, they said the BMA was “ready and willing” to return to the negotiating table again should she make “a credible offer”.
They added: “A year after our dispute started, we are still too far from turning the tide on plummeting pay, morale, and retention of doctors.
“If a credible offer can be presented the day before, or even during any action, these strikes can be cancelled.”
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Ms Atkins said the government would “immediately look to come back to the table” if the junior doctors’ strikes were called off.
“It is disappointing that despite significant progress the BMA junior doctors committee have walked away from negotiations and declared new strikes, which will result in more disruption for patients and extra pressure on NHS services and staff as we enter a busy winter period, risking patient safety,” she said in a statement.
“I have been clear that I respect the work of doctors in training and want to work with them to settle this dispute.
“We have agreed a fair and reasonable offer with the BMA’s consultants committee which is being put to members for a vote following constructive talks.
“If the junior doctors committee call off their strikes, we will immediately look to come back to the table to continue negotiations.”
SNP leader Humza Yousaf has rejected suggestions it would be “ludicrous” for his party to open formal independence negotiations, even if he loses 20 seats at the next general election.
Ahead of the SNP’s annual conference, Mr Yousaf also told Sky News it is difficult for his party to make progress “the longer” the major police investigation examining its funding and finances continues.
The SNP’s independence strategy has chopped and changed in the past 12 months as the party became engulfed in unprecedented scandal.
Nicola Sturgeon previously pledged to turn the next general election into a “de facto” referendum. She suggested winning more than 50% of the votes in Scotland would be the same as a result to begin talks over Scotland’s exit from the UK.
Ms Sturgeon quit as leader in February before being arrested as part of the police probe. She was released without charge and insists she is “certain” she has done nothing wrong.
Her replacement, Mr Yousaf, later proposed that winning “most” seats in 2024 would open the door to Downing Street negotiations.
It has now been suggested SNP activists could vote at their Aberdeen conference this weekend to switch the wording to a “majority” of seats.
Mr Yousaf told Sky News he is “open” to the tweak, which would set the bar at 29 seats. The SNP secured 48 MPs in 2019.
During an interview in Glasgow, Scotland’s first minister was questioned whether it was credible to suggest a scenario where the nationalists secure just one more seat than Labour at the 2024 election, and that equating to a clear mandate to trigger independence discussions.
He was asked about a hypothetical situation where Labour could get 23 seats and the SNP drops from 48 seats to 24.
The first minister replied: “If you win the most seats, you tend to be the winner of the general election.
“If you are denying the Scottish people the choice over their own future then the next election, we can test that proposition. In a general election, the rules are pretty simple – those that win most seats, win the general election.”
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Humza Yousaf’s mother-in-law ‘trapped’ in Gaza
Mr Yousaf said he would seriously consider a switch to the majority of seats when party members finalise the plan on Sunday.
He added: “Let’s remember before the referendum in 2014 we were at six seats so actually that number will undoubtedly fluctuate election to election.”
Read more: Yousaf in tears over mother-in-law stuck in Gaza Beth Rigby analysis: Yousaf feels powerless… and he’s angry – Beth Rigby analysis
Police Scotland told Sky News that the SNP finance investigation – dubbed Operation Branchform – is continuing.
The Crown Office, the body which will decide whether or not to charge individuals, said it has received no complaints about the probe so far.
Mr Yousaf agreed the police probe has “hurt” the SNP.
He said: “Of course it has… the longer the police investigation goes on, then the more difficult it is going to be for the party.
“I respect the police has to take whatever time it feels necessary.”
The giant American financial investor Carlyle is in talks about a major investment in Manchester United Football Club as the auction of the Premier League side nears its concluding stages.
Sky News has learnt that Carlyle is among a handful of parties which have pitched proposals to acquire a minority stake in the Old Trafford outfit.
Carlyle, which has assets of more than $370bn (£298bn) under management, ranks among the world’s largest private equity firms.
In the UK, it has owned companies including the RAC breakdown recovery service, and Addison Lee, the taxi-hire group.
One source close to the situation said this weekend that Carlyle’s interest in Manchester United was “serious”, adding that it had been engaged in discussions for some time.
Nevertheless, key details of Carlyle’s proposal, including the amount of capital it would look to deploy and the structure of a deal, have yet to be finalised.
Carlyle declined to comment.
More on Manchester United
Deadline set for final proposals
Carlyle’s interest has emerged a fortnight before a deadline set by Raine Group, the advisers handling the sale process, for final proposals to acquire or invest in Manchester United.
Sky News exclusively revealed last November the Glazer family’s plan to explore a strategic review of the club its members have controlled since 2005, kicking off a five-month battle to buy it.
Since then, dozens of parties have been rumoured or reported to have shown an interest, although few have emerged as genuinely credible bidders.
A bid deadline of 28 April has been set by The Raine Group, the merchant bank handling the sale, and which oversaw last year’s £2.5bn takeover of Chelsea by a consortium led by Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital.
The culmination of the process comes as United chase trophies in both the FA Cup, with a semi-final against Brighton and Hove Albion next weekend and the second leg of a Europa League quarter-final against Sevilla to come, with the tie finely poised at 2-2.
In February, the Red Devils’ 2-0 defeat of Newcastle United in the Carabao Cup final landed their first trophy for six years.
Who’s in contention?
The two parties which remain in contention to buy out the Glazers altogether are Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, a Qatari businessman who chairs the Gulf state’s Qatar Islamic Bank; and Ineos Sports, part of the petrochemicals group owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
Both have reportedly tabled offers below a £6bn figure, which has been speculatively touted as the Glazers’ asking price for the club they bought in 2005 for less than £800m.
In addition, several financial investors have shown interest in becoming minority shareholders or providing some form of structured finance to the club to allow it to revamp the ageing infrastructure of its Old Trafford home and Carrington training ground.
Those which have lodged minority investment proposals with Raine include Elliott Management, the American hedge fund which until recently owned AC Milan; Ares Management Corporation, a US-based alternative investment group; and Sixth Street, which recently bought a 25% stake in the long-term La Liga broadcasting rights to FC Barcelona.
At a valuation of £5bn – below the Glazers’ rumoured asking price – a sale of Manchester United would become the biggest sports club deal in history.
It would eclipse even the $6bn (£4.8bn) takeover of the Washington Commanders NFL team agreed this week by Josh Harris, an American private equity billionaire.
Part of the lure of such a valuation resides in potential future control of the club’s lucrative broadcast rights, according to bankers, alongside a belief that arguably the world’s most famous sports brand can be commercially exploited more effectively.
On Friday, New York-listed shares in Manchester United closed down nearly 5% at $22.02, giving the club a market valuation of close to $3.8bn (£3.1bn).
Glazers told to sell ‘without further delay’
This week, Manchester United’s largest fans’ group, the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), called for the conclusion of the auction “without further delay”.
“When it was announced in November that the Glazers were undertaking a ‘strategic review’ and inviting offers to buy the club, MUST welcomed the news and went on to urge the majority owners to move ahead with the process with speed, so that any period of uncertainty was as short as possible, it said in a statement.
“Nearly five months on, we read speculation that offers from prospective buyers remain below the Glazers valuation, and that a third round of offers will now be invited.
“With Erik ten Hag having made such great progress in his first season, and with the vital summer transfer window a matter of weeks away, the news of these delays and further prolonged uncertainty are of great concern.”
The Glazers’ 18-year tenure has been dogged by controversy and protests, with the lack of a Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement as manager in 2013 fuelling fans’ anger at the debt-fuelled nature of their takeover.
Fury at its participation in the ill-fated European Super League crystallised supporters’ desire for new owners to replace the Glazers, although a sale to state-affiliated Middle Eastern investors would – like Newcastle United’s Saudi-led takeover – not be without controversy.
Confirming the launch of the strategic review in November, United’s executive co-chairmen, Avram Glazer and Joel Glazer, said: “The strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our global community of 1.1bn fans and followers.
“We will evaluate all options to ensure that we best serve our fans and that Manchester United maximizes the significant growth opportunities available to the club today and in the future.”
The Glazers listed a minority stake in the company in New York in 2012 but retained overwhelming control through a dual-class share structure, which means they hold almost all voting rights.
For the last two years, the club has been promising to introduce a modestly sized supporter ownership scheme that would give fans shares with the same structure of voting rights as the Glazers.
The initiative has, however, yet to be launched despite a pledge to have it operational by the start of the 2021-22 season.
“Love United, Hate Glazers” has become a familiar refrain during their tenure, with supporters critical of a perceived lack of investment in the club, even as the owners have taken huge dividends as a result of its continued commercial success.
British Steel has revealed it is to cut 260 jobs, almost 7% of its workforce, despite continuing government funding talks with its Chinese owners.
It was announced that the losses would be felt at its Scunthorpe plant through the closure of its coking ovens – used to turn coal into the high-temperature product needed to service its blast furnaces.
The Unite union responded by saying it would look to defend every job and did not rule out the prospect of industrial action.
The move was revealed after Sky News reported that officials from the Department for Business and Trade were due in China to meet executives from Jingye Group amid protracted talks about a £300m grant.
Sources said the talks were expected to focus on the value of an energy subsidy package, which could take the overall value of government support for British Steel to approximately £1bn.
The prospect of additional taxpayers’ cash had been dependent on job guarantees.
Sky’s City editor Mark Kleinman reported last month that Jingye was drawing up plans to cut around 800 jobs at British Steel.
The company placed no timeframe on its proposals but said it had entered talks with unions.
It placed an emphasis on cutting its environmental impact and energy bills.
The company said its costs, on both fronts, rose by a combined £190m last year.
It declared in a statement that “decisive action is required because of the unprecedented rise in operating costs, surging inflation and the need to improve environmental performance.”
British Steel chief executive Xifeng Han said: “Steel is vital to modern economies and with demand expected to grow over the coming decades, British Steel has a crucial role to play in ensuring the UK has its own supply of high-quality steel.
“To make sure we can deliver the steel Britain requires, we’re undergoing the biggest transformation in our 130-year history.”
He added: “We have taken action to reduce costs within our control; however, steelmaking in the UK remains uncompetitive when compared to other international steelmakers.
“Our energy costs, carbon costs and labour costs are some of the highest across the world, which are factors that we cannot influence directly.
“For the reasons outlined, we entered into talks with the UK government in summer 2022 and are extremely grateful for its support.
“It’s important we have the correct policies and frameworks in place to back our drive to become a clean, green and successful company and we’re continuing to discuss this with the government.”
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Unite general secretary Sharon Graham responded: “British Steel workers are faced with the toxic combination of a greedy employer that is reneging on investment promises and a shambolic UK government that has no serious plan for the industry.
“Unite’s members in British Steel are clear that they will fight this and they will have the full support of their union.
Unite national officer Linda McCulloch said: “This union has not yet seen any financial justification for the closure of the coking ovens. British Steel needs to come clean and open its book in order to try to justify its decisions.
“Unite will pursue every avenue, including industrial action, to defend members’ jobs at British Steel.”
The German automotive giant BMW is in talks with the government about a £75m funding package that would secure production of electric Minis at its Oxfordshire plant.
Sky News has learnt that BMW is negotiating with officials at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over a grant from Whitehall’s Automotive Transformation Fund.
Industry sources said a deal could be finalised between the government and the company within weeks.
One added that the package, which would be worth up to £75m, appeared to have support from both Grant Shapps, the business secretary, and Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor.
It was unclear on Saturday when the funding would be released and when the plant would begin utilising it.
If a deal is finalised, it would provide a boost to the British car industry weeks after it emerged that the sector had had its worst year in production terms since the 1950s.
In 2022, carmakers produced just 775,000 vehicles, a slump of nearly 10%, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Supply chain issues such as component bottlenecks were a major factor in the decline, but the gloom enveloping the industry has been deepened by the recent collapse of Britishvolt, the fledgling electric vehicle battery manufacturer.
The Financial Times reported on Friday that Recharge Industries, an Australian company, had been chosen by administrators as Britishvolt’s preferred bidder.
Production of the Mini at Cowley dates back to the 1950s, and resumed under BMW’s ownership in the early 2000s.
Roughly 200,000 Minis are built at Oxford each year, with about 80% destined for export markets.
The plant employs about 4,000, making it easily one of the most significant in Britain.
Nissan and Ford have both announced new investments in their UK facilities in the last year, with the latter saying in December that it would spend £150m at its Halewood plant in Liverpool to expand production of electric vehicle parts.
BMW announced in 2021 that it would cease making the electric Mini in Oxford, adding last October that the UK plant would instead build the Mini Cooper three-door and five-door hatch models.
“Additionally the Mini Convertible will be returning to Oxford from 2025 – this is one of our most important cars and a global best-seller,” it said at the time.
“Electric MINIs – a hatchback and small SUV – will start their production in China through our partnership with Great Wall and the electric Countryman will be built in Leipzig [in Germany].
“Beyond this we cannot go at this point.
“Future production plans will be announced in due course.
“Oxford plays an important role in the BMW Group’s production strategy, with its high degree of flexibility, competitiveness and expertise and will remain at the heart of Mini production.”
A BMW spokesman declined to comment this weekend on its funding talks with the government.
A BEIS spokesperson said: “The UK is one of the best locations in the world for automotive manufacturing.
“Investment through the Automotive Transformation Fund will develop a high-value end-to-end electrified automotive supply chain in the UK, and this includes unlocking private investment in gigafactories.
“We’re also working with industry through the Automotive Council’s Skills Working Group to ensure the UK automotive industry can support and develop the skills needed for sustainable success.”
The government did not comment directly on the talks with BMW.
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak held talks late into the night, Sky News understands.
Reports suggest Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak’s talks focused on a potential joint ticket.
The discussion has fuelled speculation the pair could strike a deal – though neither the former prime minister nor the ex-chancellor have officially declared themselves in the race to succeed Liz Truss.
Race to be PM heats up – follow the latest updates
To be included on the ballot paper, leadership candidates need support from at least 100 Conservative MPs.
Public endorsements mean Mr Sunak has surpassed this threshold – with 121 backers – and Mr Johnson’s allies claim he has the numbers required to run too.
However, the latest Sky News tally suggests just 56 MPs have confirmed they would support Mr Johnson’s campaign to be prime minister for the second time.
One of Mr Sunak’s supporters – Richard Holden – rejected claims that Mr Johnson had 100 MPs behind him, and said this number of public endorsements had not been made “because they don’t exist”.
The only person who has thrown their hat into the ring, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, has received endorsements from 23 of her peers.
The current contest has been expedited following Liz Truss’s resignation as prime minister, and nominations for the ballot paper are due to close at 2pm tomorrow afternoon.
Read more: Who are Tory MPs backing to be the next prime minister? MPs who applauded Johnson’s departure now urge #BringBackBoris Analysis: Johnson dominates talk, but a win won’t be easy
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‘I can’t have a liar in parliament’
The talks come after Mr Johnson jetted back to the UK from his holiday in the Dominican Republic in economy class – with some fellow passengers booing him as he boarded.
If all three candidates were to receive 100 backers, there would be a vote by MPs – with the winning two put forward to the party membership.
A vote would then take place, meaning the new leader would be chosen by Friday.
In a significant moment for Team Sunak, Kemi Badenoch threw her support behind the former chancellor after a string of big names had flocked to Mr Johnson.
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What would it take to force a general election?
While she admitted that she had been a member of “the Boris Johnson fan club”, she warned the Tories are not “organising a popularity contest” – and the party is “not a vehicle for any one individual’s personal ambitions”.
Writing in The Sunday Times, Ms Badenoch said of her decision to endorse Mr Sunak: “Like any work colleagues, we had our disagreements, which I elaborated on when we were competitors in the same contest.
“Now it is imperative that I let people know the decisions he made that I knew were absolutely right.”
She also spoke of his attention to inflation and reining in of “unnecessary, wasteful spending”.
Former foreign secretary Dominic Raab said it is “difficult to see” how Mr Johnson could become prime minister again when he is “absorbed and distracted” by the issues surrounding partygate.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Raab said he was “confident” Mr Sunak would run in the Tory leadership race and was the “standout candidate” among the field.
‘Voters must get a say’
Meanwhile, opposition parties continue to call for an immediate general election amid the ongoing turmoil within the Tory Party.
The SNP’s leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, today wrote to Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, urging him to work together to bring forward a vote of no confidence in the government and force a general election – though they would need support from some Tory MPs to win it.
Mr Blackford said: “The Tories have taken a wrecking ball to the UK economy and made families suffer – as mortgage rates rise, pensions fall, and soaring inflation pushes up household bills.
“Having done so much damage, they simply cannot be allowed to impose a third Tory prime minister without an election. It would be unthinkable and undemocratic. Voters must get a say.”
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As Liz Truss faces open revolt in her own party over her tax cut plans, her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng will today try and reassure the IMF that everything is under control.
Ministers continue to be under pressure for the market chaos that erupted after the government announced its £45bn package of unfunded tax cuts last month.
The prime minister and her chancellor say the cuts are needed to get Britain’s economy growing again, as data published on Wednesday suggested we are heading for recession.
Mr Kwarteng will meet with IMF leaders in Washington DC on Thursday, after the institution’s chief economist said tax cuts threatened to cause “problems” for the UK economy.
The IMF has said Britain’s priority should be tackling inflation rather than adding to the price problem through tax giveaways to achieve economic growth.
The chancellor was seen touring the IMF’s offices and being shown artwork on Wednesday ahead of talks today.
Back at home, Ms Truss is facing growing calls for another policy reversal as her MPs see more and more polls threatening a Labour landslide at the next election.
The PM and her chancellor have already been forced into a U-turn on one of the many tax cutting policies within their plan – namely scrapping the 45p tax rate for the highest earners.
In her first PMQs since the dramatic mini-budget she pledged not to cut public spending to balance the books – despite a leading economics-focused think tank warning the government is billions short of the sums needed.
Read more: What on earth is happening in UK markets? What are bonds and where do they fit in the mini-budget crisis?
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that the government would have to cut spending or raise taxes by £62bn if it is to stabilise or reduce the national debt as promised.
Mel Stride, the Tory chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee, said that given Ms Truss’s commitments to protect public spending, there was a question over whether any plan that did not include “at least some element of further row back” on the £43 billion tax-slashing package can reassure investors.
“Credibility might now be swinging towards evidence of a clear change in tack rather than just coming up with other measures that try to square the fiscal circle,” Mr Stride said.
Conservative former minister David Davis called the mini-budget a “maxi-shambles” and suggested reversing some of the tax cuts would allow Ms Truss and Mr Kwarteng to avert leadership challenges for a few months.
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Time ticking for pension managers
Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested the government could ignore gloomy Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts if they predict low growth and rising debt.
The Business Secretary told ITV’s Peston that “its record of forecasting accurately hasn’t been enormously good” and that the chancellor could draw on “other sources of information”.
Boris Johnson has doubled down on his insistence that it is for his successor to “make significant fiscal decisions” after talks with energy bosses ended with no new measures to ease the cost of living crisis.
Speaking after the meeting, the prime minister said he would continue to urge the energy sector to ease the financial pressures facing struggling families.
But he repeated his stance that it is for his successor in Number 10, either Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak, to “make significant fiscal decisions”, a Treasury spokesperson said.
Politics hub: Truss retains commanding lead in race for No 10 – live updates
Mr Johnson has been under pressure to use his remaining time in office to come up with a new package of measures to deal with the rising cost of living.
He has been accused of going “missing” and running a “zombie government” as the country hurtles towards a recession, with energy bills forecast to top £4,200 by January.
On Monday he rejected calls from Gordon Brown to hold daily emergency COBRA meetings to stop people “going cold and hungry” this October, when the energy price cap rises.
The former Labour prime minister said fresh support can’t wait until a new PM is chosen on 5 September.
However, Mr Johnson’s spokesman said that “by convention it is not for this prime minister to make major fiscal interventions during this period”.
In a tweet after today’s meeting, Mr Johnson said he knows people are worried about the “difficult winter ahead”.
He said there is already a package of support in place, including a £400 energy bill discount for all households.
The Treasury said that Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and the energy firms agreed to “work closely” over the coming weeks to ensure that the public, including vulnerable customers, are supported in the face of rising costs.
Britain faces a national emergency with rising energy bills and a cost of living crisis.
But Labour accused the government of showing a lack of urgency and of being “missing in action”.
“Families are worried about how they will pay their bills. But instead of showing leadership, the Conservatives are missing in action.
“The prime minister and chancellor have gone AWOL, whilst the candidates for the leadership have no substantive ideas about how to help working people meet the challenges they face.
“Labour will take the action that’s needed to get us through this crisis, with real action to bring down energy bills for families, and build a stronger economy for our country.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey added: “It is appalling that the Conservatives still haven’t announced any extra support for families and pensioners facing the hardest winter in decades.
“The cruellest element of this chaos is that those who could actually help, Truss and (Rishi) Sunak, are more interested in speaking to their party than taking the action our country needs.”
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Gordon Brown ‘not leading Labour’s policy’
The roundtable meeting comes as Labour prepares to announce its own package of measures to tackle the cost of living crisis.
Sir Keir Starmer will be visiting Edinburgh tomorrow, where he is expected to speak about some of the elements of the party’s proposals to help people with rising energy bills, before a full announcement next week.
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‘People will go hungry and cold’
Labour has faced criticism for attacking Boris Johnson for going on holiday amid the worsening economic crisis, despite Sir Keir also being away himself.
Earlier on Sky News, a Labour frontbencher denied Gordon Brown was leading the party’s policy in Sir Keir’s absence after the ex-PM called for energy firms to be temporarily nationalised, in his third major intervention this week.
Read More: Nearly 50,000 sign petition backing Gordon Brown’s call for emergency budget Gordon Brown ‘seeing poverty I did not expect to see again’
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‘We’ve got zombie government’
Shadow Justice Minister Steve Reed said Labour would be setting out a package of proposals “in the next few days”.
Asked if Gordon Brown was “leading the charge of the Labour party”, he said: “No, Labour is going to come up with a fully costed package of proposals for how we will help the British people. Next week is when we are going to bring that forward.”
Labour has already called for ministers to scrap what they call a “loophole” in the windfall tax on oil and gas profits.
The government announced in May that it would be introducing a levy on the “extraordinary profits” of the oil and gas sector. This included a tax break which the government said was intended to encourage investment.
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But Mr Reed said it was doing “nothing of the sort” as he called on the government to come up with solutions to the cost of living crisis now instead of watching the Tory leadership contenders “fight each other like rats in a sack”.
Earlier this week, Lib Dem leader Ed Davey called for the rise in the energy price cap this October to be scrapped and for the cost to be covered through a windfall tax.
And today, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also piled on the pressure as she said the energy price cap rise should not go ahead and accused the UK Government of being “missing in action” on the issue.