And here are some more lines from what Rishi Sunak said at the London defence conference.
Sunak refused to say what size he thought the army should be, saying he did not want to “second guess” the military. Asked about plans to cut the size of the regular army to around 73,000 soldiers, Sunak said:
The army will have a total force capacity of 100,000, split between regulars and reserves.Now the defence secretary is currently in the process of reviewing that. There will be a defence command paper issued shortly which will talk through all that.
But ultimately my job is not to second guess the decision that our military chiefs are making. What I can say, what we’ve delivered as a government, is record defence uplifts.
How that is best spent to deal with the threats that we face is a question that our military chiefs will make.
He said his message to Vladimir Putin was “we’re not going away”. In response to a question about his message to the Russian president, he said: “It’s simple. We’re not going away.” He said Putin’s strategy to “wait this out” for “western democracies to get bored” was “not going to work”. He went on: “That support will be coming to Ukraine for years to come.”
Rishi Sunak (left) speaking with the director of the London defence conference, Iain Martin. Photograph: Ben Stansall/PA Rishi Sunak at cabinet this morning. Photograph: Simon Walker/No 10 Downing Street
And here are some of the lines from what Rishi Sunak has been saying at the London defence conference.
It is a country that has both the means and the intent to reshape the global order.
Its behaviour is increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad and in light of that we do need to take the steps to protect ourselves.
But he said countries like the UK should not respond with blanket protectionism. He said:
There are a limited number of very sensitive sectors of our economy, or types of technology, where we want to take a particularly robust approach – semiconductors, for example, dual-use technologies, quantum, etc.
But this is not an excuse for a blanket descent into protectionism.
That means different things to different people. If that means we should just be focusing on who can subsidise industries the most, then my answer is no.
We discussed that at the G7 and actually you will see in the G7 communique very specific language acknowledging that subsidy races that essentially just shift industrial capacity between allies in some kind of zero-sum competition are not appropriate.
And we shouldn’t be doing things at the expense of each other. That’s not improving our collective security.
Rishi Sunak is speaking at the London defence conference. There is a live feed here.
Sunak attends Central London defence conference – watch live
Updated at 06.26 EDT
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Commons speaker, has granted a Commons urgent question at 12.30pm that will cover Suella Braverman and claims she broke the ministerial code, Labour has announced. Angela Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, is tabling the question. A Cabinet Office minister will respond (probably Jeremy Quin, who normally gets landed with these assignments).
We’ve got a lobby briefing before then, at 11.30am, and at that point we should learn if Rishi Sunak has finished “availing” himself of the information and decided whether or not to order a full inquiry into Braverman.
AFTER 1230 TODAY
UQ – @AngelaRayner – Asking the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on the criteria for launching an investigation into a potential breach of the Ministerial Code
— Labour Whips (@labourwhips) May 23, 2023
Updated at 06.48 EDT
The International Monetary Fund has revised its growth forecast for the UK, and is now forecasting that the economy will grow by 0.4% in 2023, instead of shrinking by 0.3%. As Graeme Wearden reports on his business live blog:
The Fund is due to release its assessment of the UK economy at 11.15am, when we’ll her from Jeremy Hunt and IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva.
But the news is already out – with multiple reports that the IMF is no longer expecting the UK to fall into recession this year.
Instead of shrinking by 0.3%, as the IMF forecast in April, the UK economy is now forecast to grow by 0.4% during 2023.
Hunt, the chancellor, said the latest IMF report shows a “big upgrade” for the country’s growth prospects and credits the government’s “action to restore stability and tame inflation”. He went on:
It praises our childcare reforms, the Windsor framework and business investment incentives.
If we stick to the plan, the IMF confirm our long-term growth prospects are stronger than in Germany, France and Italy – but the job is not done yet.
This is significant because Rishi Sunak made growing the economy one of his five priorities for 2023. (It was hardly an ambitious target, because in a normal year the economy does grow, and Sunak did not say how much growth he aimed to achieve, implying even a tiny expansion would count as a success. But there were predictions the economy would shrink in 2023.)
There is more on Graeme’s live blog.
The Electoral Commission has said it is “disappointing” that rules on reporting donations were not fully complied with by parties including Labour and the Tories, PA Media reports. PA says:
Labour was issued with fines totalling £600, while the Conservatives escaped with no sanction after both parties failed to follow the rules.
The commission rebuked Labour for the late reporting of donations, while the Conservatives were also found to have failed to report two donations by the due date.
Louise Edwards, the watchdog’s director of regulation and digital transformation, said: “The requirements for political parties are clear, so it’s disappointing when they are not fully complied with.”
She added: “In the case of the Labour party, our investigations found seven offences related to the late reporting of donations from one of its quarterly financial reports, three of which have resulted in a sanction.”
Yesterday Suella Braverman, the home secretary, made a statement to MPs about the government’s response to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA). She implied she was accepting almost all its recommendations, saying: “We are accepting the need to act on 19 out of the inquiry’s 20 final recommendations.”
But her response has been strongly criticised by people involved in the inquiry. Yesterday Prof Alexis Jay, who chaired the inquiry, said she was “deeply disappointed” that the inquiry’s recommendations were not being accepted in full.
And this morning Lucy Duckworth, a member of the IICSA’s survivors and victims consultative panel, told the Today programme that in practice the recommendations were not being fully accepted. She said:
Actually, when you look at it, they are absorbing many of the recommendations in existing structures. We know that if they were working, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
Duckworth also criticised the government’s decision to reject the inquiry’s call for the establishment of a cabinet-level minister for children, saying:
To really truly tackle this, we need a complete culture change and a complete reform of the system.
Sarah Champion, the Labour MP who was one of the people originally calling for the inquiry to be set up, also told the programme that she was angry about Braverman’s response to the inquiry recommendations, which she described as “insulting”. She said:
Rather than accepting those, she’s kicked it into the long grass with consultations, with 13 weeks of calls for evidence which conveniently takes her into summer recess when parliament isn’t sitting.
I find it incredibly insulting to, yes, the taxpayers’ £200m [the cost of the inquiry], but more so to the 7,000 victims.
Suella Braverman, the home secretary, arriving for cabinet this morning. No 10 has still not said whether or not Rishi Sunak will order an inquiry into claims she broke the ministerial code. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images
Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, told LBC this morning that Dominic Raab is standing down at the next election because he knows he would otherwise lose his seat. Davey said:
He knew he was going to lose. We have been working really well there.
We’ll be working every day to earn the trust of people in Esher and Walton.
It’s not just about Dominic Raab, it really is about the whole Conservative party.
Asked if the Lib Dems could take Raab’s seat, Esther and Walton, Davey replied: “I hope so but we are going to work for it.”
Updated at 04.48 EDT
Good morning. “Were you still up for Raab?” used to be a niche Westminster joke about the next general election, highlighting the fact that Dominic Raab, the former deputy PM, was widely expected to be one of the most high-profile Tory losses on election night last year, just as Michael Portillo was in 1997. It was never a particularly good comparison, because Portillo’s defeat was unexpected, whereas Raab’s is already priced in, but now the only thing it can refer to is the moment the Daily Telegraph dropped last night, with the story that Raab is standing down. Our version is here.
Raab, who is only 49, has written a letter to the chair of the Conservative association in Esher and Walton, his constituency, saying that one of the factors behind his decision is “the pressure the job has placed on my young family”. He has two sons, aged 10 and eight. This may well be true. But at Westminster it will be taken for granted that he is announcing his decision to stand down now because he assumes he will lose his seat. His majority over the Liberal Democrats at the last election was just 2,743, and Esther and Walton is one of their top targets.
If this were just a one-off, it would not be so interesting. But, according to the Spectator’s tally, Raab is the 37th Conservative MP to announce they are standing down at the next general election. That is more than 10% of the parliamentary party – a much higher proportion than is normal at this stage of a general election. What’s more, 12 of the others are, like Raab, under 50. In the 20th century it was unusual for an MP to leave the Commons voluntarily before reaching retirement age. Career patterns are changing, but that on its own does not explain what is happening (the Labour MPs who have announced that they are standing down are all in their 60s, 70s or 80s), and it is hard not to conclude that Raab has joined a cohort of Tories who have given up hope their party will be in government after the next election.
Responding to the Raab announcement, a Lib Dem spokesperson said:
The local elections in May showed people are fed up with Conservative MPs taking them for granted. It’s not just Dominic Raab who should go, it’s this whole sleaze-ridden Conservative government.
We will be fighting hard at the next election to finally give the people of Esher and Walton the strong local champion they deserve.
And this is from Monica Harding, the Lib Dem candidate in Esher and Walton.
In 2019 I brought Dominic Raab’s 23k majority down to >3K.
Bringing proper accountability to #EsherandWalton
2 wks ago we became largest party at locals & lead the Council.
We’re working hard everyday, listening & delivering for the community.
We’ll keep on doing that pic.twitter.com/ydG1PfpHI1
— Monica Harding (@monicabeharding) May 23, 2023
Here is the agenda for the day.
Morning: Rishi Sunak chairs cabinet.
10am: Claire Coutinho, the children’s minister, gives evidence to the Commons education committee about special educational needs and disabilities (Send) provision.
11am: Sunak speaks at the London defence conference. At 3.15pm John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, will be speaking.
11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.
After 12.30pm: MPs begin a debate on a Labour motion criticising the government for not abolishing or reforming the leasehold system; later there will be a debate on a Labour “humble address” motion calling for the publication of data about the safety of school buildings in England.
If you want to contact me, do try the “send us a message” feature. You’ll see it just below the byline – on the left of the screen, if you are reading on a PC or a laptop. This is for people who want to message me directly. I find it very useful when people message to point out errors (even typos – no mistake is too small to correct). Often I find your questions very interesting too. I can’t promise to reply to them all, but I will try to reply to as many as I can, either in the comments below the line, privately (if you leave an email address and that seems more appropriate), or in the main blog, if I think it is a topic of wide interest.
Updated at 05.24 EDT