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Rishi Sunak refuses to commit to cutting net migration to level set in 2019 Tory manifesto | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has refused to stick to Boris Johnson’s pledge of bringing annual net migration numbers below 250,000 by the next election – arguing instead that tackling illegal migration is “undoubtedly the country’s priority”.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto committed to making sure “overall numbers come down”. At the time, net migration stood at 226,000, giving an effective target to hit during this parliament.

Speaking to journalists on his way to the G7 summit in Japan, the prime minister acknowledged he had “inherited some numbers”, but refused three times to explicitly recommit to reducing legal immigration into the UK to that level.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a huddle with political journalists on board a government plane as he heads to Japan to attend the G7 summit in Hiroshima. Picture date: Wednesday May 17, 2023.
Rishi Sunak spoke to journalists on a plane travelling to Japan for the G7 summit

Mr Sunak told reporters: “I’ve said I do want to bring legal migration down. I think illegal migration is undoubtedly the country’s priority, and you can see all the work I’m putting into that. But on legal migration as well, we are committed to bringing those numbers down.”

Referring to meetings he held in Iceland earlier this week, the prime minister said conversations with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had resulted in “a big step forward” in his bid to tackle small boat crossings in the Channel.

Mr Sunak said: “That is of practical value to us in stopping illegal migration – sharing intelligence, operational cooperation will make a difference to our ability to stop the boats, tackle organised crime upstream. That’s a very tangible result of the engagement and diplomacy we conducted.”

Explaining his reluctance to put a hard target on legal migration levels, the prime minister said: “The key thing for people is to know [when it comes to legal migration] is why people are here, the circumstances and the terms on which they are here, making sure they contribute, to public services like the NHS for example. Those are all now part of our migration system and they weren’t before.”

Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen
Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen recently met in Iceland

Insiders say Mr Sunak’s focus on tackling illegal small boat crossings rather than putting a specific target on reducing legal migration reflects his pragmatism.

“His motto is deliver on promises and don’t promise what you can’t deliver,” said one government source.

But the PM’s remarks are likely to stoke further tensions in cabinet, where divisions are emerging between those who want to make cutting overall numbers a priority and others who argue such measures could limit economic growth.

Net migration hit a record 504,000 in the year to June 2022 – and official figures to be released within weeks are expected to show net migration increasing between 650,000 and 997,000 in the 12 months since.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said at a speech at the National Conservatism conference this week that the government must bring numbers down before the next election to end Britain’s reliance on foreign workers and ease pressure on public services.

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PM addresses immigration in Europe

However, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has suggested to business leaders that immigration controls would be eased to plug gaps in the labour market.

Mr Hunt told the British Chambers of Commerce he was open to adding more jobs to the shortage occupation list, telling business leaders the government would be “sensible and pragmatic”.

There are currently a million job vacancies in the British economy, with about seven million adults of working age not in jobs.

The government introduced a series of schemes and incentives to try to get economically inactive adults back into the workplace at the last budget, ranging from more childcare support for new parents and pension tax breaks for high-earning over-50s.

Rishi Sunak accused of ditching housebuilding targets to please Tory members | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has been accused of ditching housebuilding targets to court Tory members while he was running to be party leader and prime minister.

In an interview with the ConservativeHome website on Thursday, Mr Sunak acknowledged that the “vast majority of people want to own a home” and insisted it was something his party “continue to be incredibly supportive of”.

However, he said that during the summer Tory leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson, he had spoken to Conservative members, activists, and councillors and they expressed “no support” for national housebuilding targets.

Boris Johnson’s downfall ‘not my doing’, Rishi Sunak says – politics latest

“I spent a lot of the time over the summer when I was talking to so many of our members, so many of our councillors, about our planning system and their views on it,” he said.

“What I heard, consistently, particularly from our councillors and our members, was what they didn’t want was a nationally imposed, top-down set of targets imposed telling them what to do.”

He said the government was instead investing in brownfield sites, schemes for first-time buyers, and stamp duty exemptions.

Lisa Nandy, Labour’s shadow levelling up and housing secretary, branded Mr Sunak’s comments “utterly shameful” and accused him of putting party before the country.

“It is utterly shameful that the prime minister admits he ditched housing targets because he’s too weak to stand up to Tory members,” she said.

“That decision has pushed housebuilding off a cliff and exacerbated a housing crisis that was already causing misery for millions of families and young people, but Rishi Sunak clearly thinks that’s all OK because a few thousand Tory members are happy.

“We need a prime minister that puts our country before his party.”

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Why is a Labour tweet causing a stir?

The prime minister’s comments come just two weeks after the government released new figures showing that planning applications in England had fallen to their lowest level in at least 16 years.

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Last December the government came under heavy criticism for watering down a target to build 300,000 homes every year after a number of Tory MPs raised objections.

A Commons vote on the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill had to be dropped in November after 60 Conservatives signed an amendment calling for the mandatory target to be scrapped.

The target was then redefined as a “starting point” and “advisory” in a move that generated a backlash from a different set of Tory MPs – including former party chairman Sir Jake Berry – who said: “Conservatives need to deliver for the next generation if we ever expect them to vote for us.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Sunak conceded that his plan to stop small boats in the Channel “won’t happen overnight” as he was pushed on the timescale for fulfilling one of his five key pledges to voters.

He also denied that he had played any role in Mr Johnson’s downfall as prime minister, saying it “wasn’t my doing” and that he had resigned for reasons “personal” to him, including a “fundamental difference on economic policy”.

The Conservatives have been contacted for comment.

Tory councillor Andrew Edwards suspended over racist remark allegations pending an investigation | Politics News

A Tory councillor has been suspended after a recording surfaced appearing to show him say all white men should have a black person as a slave.

Andrew Edwards, who represents the party on Pembrokeshire County Council, released a statement on Wednesday saying he had referred himself to the Public Services Ombudsman.

But on Thursday, the Welsh Conservatives confirmed to Sky News he had also been suspended from the party, pending an investigation.

In the recording, which has been widely shared online, a man’s voice, thought to be that of Mr Edward’s, said: “I think all white men should have a black man as a slave or a black woman as a slave, you know.

“It’s nothing wrong with skin colour, it is just they’re a lower class than us white people, you know.”

It is not clear where or when the recording was made.

In his written statement, Mr Edwards said: “I am aware of such serious allegations being made against me. This is why I have self referred to the Public Services Ombudsman for an independent evaluation.

“It is now in the hands of legal experts and the Ombudsman. It would be unfair on the process for me to comment now.”

Douglas Ross: Row erupts as Scottish Tory leader suggests people should vote Labour to oust SNP | Politics News

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has suggested that Tories should vote Labour in the next election, prompting fury from his party’s Westminster HQ.

Douglas Ross said people should “do what’s best for the country” and support the candidate most likely to beat the SNP in their constituency – and in many Scottish seats, it is likely to be Labour or even the Lib Dems who are the most serious threat to the Scottish nationalists.

Mr Ross said he wants to loosen the SNP’s grip on Scotland, adding that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer should also be looking “a bit beyond their own narrow party agenda” in favour of keeping the UK together.

He told The Sunday Telegraph: “The public know how to tactically vote in Scotland.

“I will always encourage Scottish Conservative voters to vote Scottish Conservatives, but I think generally the public can see and they want the parties to accept that where there is a strongest candidate to beat the SNP you get behind that candidate.

“If parties maybe look beyond their own narrow party agenda and do what’s best for the country and for me as Scottish Conservative leader what would be best is if we see this grip that the SNP have on Scotland at the moment is loosened.”

But a Tory spokesman in Westminster insisted that tactical voting was not the official position south of the border, saying: “This is emphatically not the view of the Conservative Party.

“We want people to vote for Conservative candidates wherever they are standing as that’s the best way to keep Labour and the SNP out.”

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The news comes just weeks before the local elections, where Mr Sunak and his party are expected to lose more than 1,000 seats, according to a recent report in the Daily Mirror.

This would be a blow to the impression he is trying to give of a prime minister repairing the reputation of the Conservatives.

Port of Dover delays: Critical incident stood down and buffer zones cleared – as senior Tory says Brexit has ‘played a part’ in queues | UK News

The Port of Dover has announced an end to its critical incident following a weekend of travel chaos which saw some coach passengers caught up in 14-hour-long queues.

The port declared a critical incident on Friday with coaches particularly affected by the traffic as passengers – including school pupils – waited to be processed at border controls.

Those hoping to get away for their Easter break on Sunday night faced a few more hours waiting to be processed at border controls before getting on a ferry.

But in its latest statement on Monday morning, the port said all coach traffic had now been processed through immigration controls.

“The critical incident has been stood down,” the port said in its statement.

“The Port of Dover continued working round the clock with the ferry operators and border agencies to get coach passengers on their way and the backlog is now cleared.

“Along with the final coaches being processed through the port, all tourist cars and freight vehicles were also processed successfully.

“We continue to offer our sincere apologies to all those affected by the prolonged delays that have occurred over this weekend.”

A “full review” will now be launched by the port to ensure “improvements are made” ahead of Easter weekend – typically one of the busiest travel days of the year in the UK.

On Monday, P&O Ferries also announced that a buffer zone – set up to control traffic entering the port – had been cleared.

P&O Ferries previously advised coach drivers to head straight to the port to wait in buffer zone queues, where advance passenger information (AP) would be taken, and warned there could be a 10-hour wait.

“All coaches that have just passed border control will be on the next crossing to Calais. We apologise again for the wait times experienced in Dover this weekend,” the company said in a statement.

Is Brexit a factor?

On Sunday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman denied Brexit was the main reason for the queues.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, she said: “I don’t think that is fair to say that this is an adverse effect of Brexit.

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‘Situation improving’ in Dover

“I think we have seen we have had many years now since leaving the European Union and there’s been, on the whole, very good cooperation and processes.

“But at acute times, when there’s a lot of pressure crossing the Channel whether the tunnel or the ferries, then I think there’s always going to be a backup.

“And I just urge everyone to be a bit patient while the ferry companies work their way through the backlog.”

The home secretary also downplayed fears that delays at Dover could become a regular occurrence that risks ruining school holiday plans, suggesting things have been “operating very smoothly at the border” in general.

But Conservative MP and former minister Sir Robert Buckland suggested Brexit had played a part in the disruption.

He said: “I think for my layman’s eye, looking on, it does seem that there’s a confluence of issues.

“I think that there’s no doubt that some of the increased checks that now are necessary since we left the EU will be a part of that.

Sir Robert Buckland
Sir Robert Buckland

“I think it’s all the authorities on both sides of the channel, both the French and the British authorities, have to work even harder to make sure that those short straits are working as effectively as possible at times of maximum pressure.”

Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, Tobias Ellwood, also blamed Brexit. In a Tweet, he wrote: “Of course, it’s connected to Brexit.

“Our current Brexit model resulted in an end to travel freedoms. But as they weren’t replaced with new ones – processing takes longer – hence the delays.

“To compound matters – in November fingerprint scans begin. Hence we need a Brexit upgrade.”


Extra sailings were run over the weekend in a bid to clear the backlog, but by Sunday morning the port still estimated some travellers would face waits of up to eight hours, depending on the ferry operator.

The port had previously declared a critical incident and said the delays were “due to lengthy French border processes and sheer volume”.

Port officials said they had been “working round the clock” with ferry operators and border agencies to try to get coach passengers on their way and more than 300 coaches left the port on Saturday, while the freight backlog was cleared and tourist cars had been successfully processed.

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Coach and lorries wait for French border checks on Saturday
Coach and lorries waiting for French border checks on Saturday

One passenger, Rosie Pearson, described the travel scenes in Dover on Saturday as “carnage” as she was stuck for 16 hours with her husband and two teenagers.

The 50-year-old environmental campaigner from Essex was travelling to Val d’Isere in the French Alps on an overnight bus.

‘It didn’t need to be this way’

Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy said “a range of factors” have caused the delays, but said the government had not planned for what was going to happen post-Brexit.

She told Sophy Ridge On Sunday that ministers had “known for a very long time that they needed to make sure that there were resources in place to deal with additional paperwork checks”.

“The point is not whether we left the European Union or not. The point was that we left with a government that made big promises and once again didn’t deliver,” she said.

“I really feel for the families that are trying to get away for an Easter break, people who have been caught up in this chaos, people whose livelihoods are threatened.

“It didn’t need to be this way. If the government got a grip, got down to brass tacks and started doing their actual job, all these things could be avoided.”

Faction of Tory members feel ‘disconnected’ after being ‘denied a vote’ when Rishi Sunak became PM, ex-party chair says | Politics News

A proportion of Conservative members feel “disconnected” from the party as they were “denied a vote” when Rishi Sunak became prime minister, a former Tory chairman said.

Sir Jake Berry, who was chair under Liz Truss, said Mr Sunak should have held an “endorsement vote” to show he had the support of the membership.

Instead, Mr Sunak automatically became PM after Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt dropped out of the contest to replace Liz Truss and Mr Sunak passed the 100-nomination threshold, leaving him as the only remaining candidate.

As a result, there is a “perception”, Sir Jake said, that Tory MPs are “disconnected from our membership”.

Mr Sunak entered Downing Street just weeks after coming second to Ms Truss in the summer leadership contest after Tory members voted for her over him – despite MPs being in favour of him.

“I actually think it’s a great pity for Rishi Sunak that we didn’t have a vote of members,” Sir Jake told GB News.

“Because in the summer, fine Conservative that he is, he struggled actually to get the support of Conservative Party members – as, funnily enough, did Jeremy Hunt in the previous leadership election.

Minister without portfolio in the Cabinet Office Jake Berry during day three of the Conservative Party annual conference at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. Picture date: Tuesday October 4, 2022.
Sir Jake Berry was party chairman under Liz Truss

“And I think even though he absolutely got the majority of the Conservative members of parliament – and I support him as prime minister in everything he does – the challenge he has is, even if it’s not true, there’s a perception of the Conservative Parliamentary Party now being disconnected from our membership.”

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Sir Jake added that he thinks Mr Sunak “would have won it well” if a vote had gone to the membership.

But, he said a narrative has been allowed to develop about members being “denied that vote”.

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‘War room’ in the dying days of Truss leadership

The former Northern Powerhouse minister revealed what the last days of the Truss premiership were like.

He was part of a “war room” in Number 10, with Ms Truss, ex-chief whip Wendy Morton and former deputy PM Therese Coffey who were all trying to stabilise her leadership after the now-infamous mini-budget.

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Sunak becomes prime minister

Just before Ms Truss resigned, Sir Jake said “two of the most senior civil servants in the Treasury” tried to press him on “why there could be no long, protracted leadership election in the Conservative Party”.

“They asked me at the end of it, ‘Do you agree?’,” he said.

“And I said, ‘Well, I hope you don’t mind me saying, I don’t really think it’s any of your business, as civil servants, about how political parties choose their leader’.”

Rishi Sunak must ‘do more than the bare minimum’ to combat Tory sleaze allegations | Politics News

Just a few months ago, Rishi Sunak promised on the steps of Downing Street that his premiership would be different.

With his commitment to integrity, professionalism and accountability he pledged a new chapter of government.

His vision seemed to be one of getting things done efficiently and drama-free rather than lurching from one self-inflicted scandal to another.

But as he is quickly finding out, it’s easier said than done.

And so he has begun 2023 with a new set of sleaze allegations.

The characters and the plot lines though are all too familiar.

Firstly, Conservative Party chair Nadhim Zahawi is accused of impropriety over his financial affairs, and not for the first time.

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‘Questions need answering’ in Zahawi case, says PM

He has always insisted he does everything by the book, but the latest revelation that he agreed to a multimillion-pound deal after a dispute with HMRC during his time as chancellor, eventually became too embarrassing for the Prime Minister.

Under mounting pressure over the weekend, the PM eventually referred it to his ethics advisor, admitting there are “questions to be answered”.

Nadhim Zahawi looks on outside the Conservative Party's headquarters in London, Britain January 23, 2023.
Nadhim Zahawi refused to speak to reporters after arriving at Conservative Party headquarters on Monday

And as if that wasn’t enough, his old frenemy Boris Johnson has proved he does not need to be in Number 10 to cause problems.

At the heart of this controversy is an issue that plagued him in office and has followed him to the backbenches.

A tendency to live well beyond his means and periodically ask for handouts has dragged down another of Johnson’s willing friends, this time BBC chair Richard Sharp who helped him secure an £800,000 loan in 2020.

Politics Hub latest: ‘Evidence’ Zahawi’s TV interview defence was ‘not true’ as Sunak orders probe

None of these sagas are of Sunak’s making but to live up to his own high standards he will need to show he really is prepared to deal with them differently, rather than doing the bare minimum and hoping it all goes away.

So far, he has yet to convince his critics that he hasn’t reverted back to business as usual.

Facing pressure from Tory rebels, PM set to toughen up Online Safety Bill | Politics News

Rishi Sunak appears to have bowed to pressure from rebel Tory MPs to make social media bosses criminally liable for failing to protect children from online harm.

The prime minister was facing a major backbench rebellion as 50 MPs put their names to an amendment to the Online Safety Bill.

The amendment would toughen up the punishments for tech chiefs who fail to block children from seeing damaging content on their platforms.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has reached a deal with rebels after talks over the weekend, according to a source close to her, allowing the prime minister to avoid an embarrassing defeat in the Commons.

The source suggested Ms Donelan likes the intention of the amendment, but the wording “wasn’t quite right”.

It is understood the rebels have dropped the amendment ahead of its return to the Commons later today – and the culture secretary is working with them to table it in the House of Lords “in a more workable format”.

It marks the third time Mr Sunak has backed down in the face of uprisings on his backbenches since entering Number 10 in October, having ditched onshore wind farms and housing planning reforms.

Former cabinet ministers including ex-home secretary Priti Patel and former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith are among those backing the change to the Online Safety Bill.

With Labour supporting it too, failure to find a compromise would have seen Mr Sunak on course for his first major defeat in the Commons.

The rebel amendment looks to introduce a new clause into the Online Safety Bill to “make it an offence for the provider of a user-to-service not to comply with the safety duties protecting children” which are set out in the draft law.

In its current form, the new internet safety law would require tech companies to remove illegal material from their platforms, with a particular emphasis on protecting children from seeing harmful content.

Social media platforms and other user-generated, content-based sites that break the rules would face large fines from the sector’s new regulator, Ofcom.

But the proposed law would only hold tech bosses liable for failing to give information to the watchdog.

Sky’s chief political correspondent Jon Craig said: “The government has confirmed a major climbdown in the face of a threatened rebellion which could have lead to a government defeat on the Online Safety Bill.

“On the eve of a big showdown, in which up to 50 Tory MPs were threatening to vote against the government, the government has pledged to, not accept the amendment put down by the rebels, but to bring it back in the Lords.

“The government has backed down because it would have potentially lost the vote.”

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Rishi Sunak has bowed to pressure from rebel Tory MPs. Pic: AP
Rishi Sunak has bowed to pressure from rebel Tory MPs. Pic: AP

Sir Iain had said current protection offered by the draft legislation was “weak” and children needed greater safeguards against seeing “extreme pornography” and material about suicide.

The NSPCC has been helping drive a campaign to have managers made criminally responsible for failing to offer protection to youngsters.

Richard Collard, associate head of child safety online policy at the children’s charity, said: “By committing to senior manager liability, the culture secretary has sent a strong and welcome signal that she will give the Online Safety Bill the teeth needed to drive a culture change within the heart of tech companies that will help protect children from future tragedies.

“The government has rightly listened to the concerns raised by MPs and we look forward to working with ministers to ensure the final legislation holds senior managers accountable in practice if their products continue to put children at risk of preventable harm and sexual abuse.”

Ian Russell, the father of schoolgirl Molly Russell, who killed herself after viewing harmful material on social media, said the threat of imprisonment is “the only thing” that will make the bosses “put safety near the top of their agenda”.

“I think that’s a really important thing in terms of changing the corporate culture at these platforms,” he told BBC’s Newsnight.

‘No further action’ against former Tory London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey who attended party during COVID pandemic | Politics News

“No further action” will be taken against former Conservative London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey after he attended a party while coronavirus restrictions were in place.

Following a Metropolitan Police investigation into the party on 14 December 2020, the force on Friday said it will not be fining Mr Bailey for breaching COVID rules.

The London Assembly member, who lost out to Labour’s Sadiq Khan in May last year, was pictured at an event with more than 20 people said to be held at the Conservative Party’s Westminster headquarters.

At the time, London was under Tier 2 restrictions that banned the mixing of households indoors.

Chancellor warns of ‘tough road’ ahead – follow live politics updates

He apologised when the photo emerged in December 2021 for a “serious error of judgment” and resigned as chairman of the London Assembly’s influential police and crime committee, which scrutinises the work of the Met Police.

On Friday, the police said the photo by itself “is not sufficient evidence” but it was considered alongside “all other relevant material”.

Venue staff were questioned and the Met sent out legal questionnaires to a number of people in the photo.

Conservative's Shaun Bailey arriving at City Hall, London, for the declaration for the next Mayor of London. Picture date: Saturday May 8, 2021.
Shaun Bailey apologised for attending the gathering and stepped down as chair of an influential committee

“The investigation reviewed all the material thoroughly and after careful consideration, it was determined that there was insufficient evidence to disprove the version of events provided by attendees to a standard that would meet the threshold required,” a Met statement said.

“As a result, a decision was made that no further action should be taken.”

The force did not interview anybody under caution and has used the legal questionnaires to investigate a number of other alleged COVID rule breaches, including for Boris Johnson.

If Mr Bailey had been found to have breached COVID rules he would have faced a fine.

Tory leadership contest: Johnson and Sunak hold late night talks – fuelling speculation they could strike a deal | Politics News

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

The expected timeline of events in electing a new PM
The expected timeline of events in electing a new PM

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.

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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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